* Don't take out a loan secured against your home - you could lose it. If you run into trouble with repayments, a loan company will have no qualms about making you sell your house.
* Shop around for the best deal. Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) are a useful means of comparison, but you should also ask for the cash cost of the loan (how much you actually pay in interest). Most reputable companies will provide this information. If they don't, steer clear.
* If you are in employment, try your bank or building society first.
* If you move on to loan companies, remember big is beautiful.
* If your debts are out of control, seek help quickly from a debt counsellor at the Citizens' Advice Bureau, your union or local authority.