JAMES* did what the government told him to do: he spoke to his bank when he got into financial difficulties in 2008.
In 2005, the retail manager and married father-of-two had been offered a loan -- which he declined -- of more than €400,000 over the phone. But when James's financial health deteriorated a few years later, the bank, which he owes some €42,000, began to "hound" him.
James says this included persistent phone calls and correspondence and rejection of several repayment proposals. He contemplated suicide.
"I was put under savage pressure," said James, who sought the help of The Phoenix Project.
The Phoenix Project offers financial, legal and counselling support to the self-employed, PAYE workers, farmers, and businesses who are under pressure to repay debts.
*Name changed to protect identity.