Up to 40 per cent have not made key checks on their credit rating or electoral roll entry

It's winter for credit, so should you take a home-loan holiday?

As lending dries up and bills soar, more borrowers are taking advantage of payment breaks. Sue Hayward asks if this is a solution or a problem postponed

The sky-high loans of last resort that tide you over till payday

'Overpriced, overused and over here' – is there anything to be said for American-style, short-term offers? Emma Lunn investigates

Leading article: Boring, boring, boring...

There are many legitimate criticisms that can be made of Alistair Darling's first Budget. It was far too timid on greenery for our taste. The scale of new car taxes it heralded was far too complicated. And the higher taxes on alcohol are not so high that they will do much to discourage binge-drinking, while they may do wonders for day-trips to Calais. Our guarded response to the introduction of tests for all recipients of incapacity benefit is printed above.

Mortgage Clinic: How long in a new job before I can get a mortgage?

'I'm returning to Wales after spending some years abroad in Chile. Obviously, I'll need to get a job before I can secure a mortgage, but must I work for six months to prove that I can support repayments? Or could I get the money straight away? I have a deposit of £15,000 and I'm hoping to find a home for about £90,000'
JB, Santiago, via email

MP demands inquiry after Egg shows card customers the door

Egg may be investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) over its decision last month to terminate the contracts of 161,000 credit card customers.

Merchants of Misery: Debt collection is one of the UK's fastest-growing industries

Agencies pursue 20 million cases a year and resort to underhand (yet often legal) tactics. Now, a change to the law will make their business even easier. Jonathan Owen and Ian Griggs report

Card firms cash in as over one in 10 customers miss repayments

Around 11 per cent of credit card holders have missed a monthly repayment in the past six months, according to a survey from comparison website Card firms, which charge an average of £12 for each payment missed, are estimated to have made £61m as a result.

Meanwhile, business is booming for the debt collectors

The first contact with a debt collection agency is usually a bright red envelope in the post. The second is a late-night phone call informing the debtor of the agency's involvement. And the third is the dreaded knock on the door.

Khodorkovsky blasts Putin as Yukos defaults

The credit rating of the Russian oil group Yukos was cut to default by Standard & Poor's yesterday, after it missed an interest payment on a $1bn (£520m) loan.

Hollinger's credit rating downgraded

Fitch attacks G7

FITCH IBCA, the credit rating agency, has warned that the "apparent lack of policy response" of the G7 leading industrial nations could jeopardise world growth.
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform