The survey suggests that the UK is "credit hungry".
Cash-strapped consumers are prepared to overstretch themselves on credit and are failing to think through the consequences, a survey has suggested.
More than one in four people are worried about their ability to repay debts in the future, according to the report, by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
But very few of the 16% already struggling to repay are considering how to deal with these debts.
The survey came before the Bank of England released consumer debt figures.
One in five respondents in the credit confidence survey of nearly 4,000 people said they were worried about the shrinking availability of credit.
"The survey shows that some people are still prepared to borrow despite the tough market conditions, rising unemployment, a depleted housing market and the increasing sense that they will be unable to repay debt in the future," said Richard Thompson, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
This clearly spells tough times for both consumers and credit companies alike
Richard Thompson, PricewaterhouseCoopers
"This clearly spells tough times for both consumers and credit companies alike."
Of those worried about future debt repayments, 14% said they expected to use more credit in the run-up to Christmas.
Falling property values and a trend of high-value mortgages mean that debt issues are being faced by the wealthy, as well as the less well-off.
Financial institutions are trying to protect their assets by applying to courts for a charging order, the report says.
These orders convert unsecured lending, which is in default, into debt secured on the borrower's property.
The report suggested that banks were applying for more than 500 charging orders a day, with the total rising from 10,000 at the start of the decade to 97,000 in 2007.
The accountancy firm describes the UK as "credit hungry", but it faces a squeeze on borrowing.
Total household borrowing in the UK stands at more than £1.5bn.
The Bank of England's statistics on the level of lending to individuals, published at 0930 on Monday, found that the number of people borrowing through home loans was continued to fall in October.