If you're worried about someone's gambling

This advice applies to Wales. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland

If you’ve been affected by someone else’s gambling, you can get help. You might want to:

  • get emotional support for yourself

  • talk to them about their gambling problem

  • get help for them

  • check if you’re responsible for any debt

  • get help if you’re struggling with debt

  • protect money or belongings you share with them

Get emotional support for yourself 

Dealing with someone’s gambling problem can be very stressful. Their behaviour can affect your wellbeing - it’s normal to feel anxious, angry or hurt. 

You can get support from the charity GamCare. Find out how to get support on the GamCare website.

Talk to the person about their gambling problem

It can be difficult to start the conversation. You might want to tell them how their behaviour is affecting you and ask them how big the problem is. You can also let them know they can get help.

You can find out how to talk to someone about their gambling on the GambleAware website.

If the person who gambles makes you feel anxious or threatened, it might be domestic abuse and you can get help. You can find out more about domestic abuse.

Get help for the person who gambles

You can get support to help them with their gambling problem, including advice on how to:

  • limit how much they gamble

  • deal with debt

  • get mental health support

You can find out how to get help with gambling problems.

Check if you’re responsible for debt

You’ll only be responsible for debt that’s in your name. If the debt is in someone else’s name, you’re not responsible for paying it back.

If someone has borrowed money in your name without your permission

This is fraud and is illegal. You aren’t responsible for paying this money back.

You should report the fraud to the lender as soon as possible - for example, the loan company or credit card provider. They’ll investigate the situation.

If they agree it's fraud, you won't have to pay the money back. If you've already paid any money, they’ll return it to you.

If you’re not happy with how the lender investigates the fraud claim, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) on their website.

The FOS can order the lender to look at the evidence again. You can check what to expect when you complain to an ombudsman.

You should tell them about your situation - for example if you’ve been in an abusive relationship. 

You can check what else to do if you've been affected by domestic abuse.

You should also report the fraud on the Action Fraud website. You’ll get a crime reference number to give to the lender. Lenders usually expect you to contact Action Fraud, but you don’t have to.

If you want to take legal action against someone for fraud, you must report the crime to the police. It's not enough to report the crime on the Action Fraud website.

If you have a joint loan with the person who gambles

You’ll both be responsible for the debts. Your credit rating can also be affected by the other person’s actions.

If you were forced to take out a loan

You should let the loan company know if you've experienced domestic abuse or coercion - for example, if the other person scared you into taking out a loan to fund their gambling. 

The lender will ask your permission to investigate. If you're not happy with how your lender investigates your case, you can complain to FOS.

Get help if you’re struggling with debt

You should start dealing with your debts as soon as you can. 

You can contact your bank or the company you owe money to and explain the situation. They might give you more time to pay or say you don’t have to pay some of the debt.

You can find out how to start dealing with your debts.

If you don’t have enough money to live on, check if you can get help to pay for living costs.

Protect money or belongings you share

You should keep an eye on your finances - you might not know how big the problem is.

If you have a joint benefit claim and the person who gambles gets the money

You might be able to split the payments so the other person can’t gamble with your money.

You’ll need to ask the organisation that pays your benefits - this might be the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or HMRC. You can contact them using the details on any letters or emails you’ve got about your benefits.

If you own your home jointly with the person who gambles

If the person who gambles is in debt, they could be forced to sell their share of your home to pay them off. This could mean you have to leave your home, even if the debts aren’t in your name.

If you’re worried about this, you can contact the people they owe money to. Explain the situation and tell them what the person who gambles is doing to tackle the problem.

Some companies might give you more time to pay or say you don’t have to pay some of the debt.

If you've already received court papers that say you'll have to sell your home, you should get legal help immediately. Check how to get free legal help.

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