Almost two million people in the UK owe more than £10,000 on credit cards, overdrafts or other unsecured loans, a survey has suggested.
Loans appeared to be the most popular method of borrowing
About 500,000 owe more than £20,000, the survey for debt consultants One Advice found.
About half of those owing £10,000 had taken out loans, about 350,000 had used credit cards, and 83,000 overdrafts. Others owed family and friends money.
GfK NOP conducted 1,910 interviews in February and March.
Most personal borrowing in the UK is in the form of mortgages, where the loan is secured on the property.
But this survey found many people are running up big unsecured debts too.
People aged between 35 and 44 were most likely to have run up significant debts, with around 650,000 people in this age group owing more than £10,000.
But more than 200,000 18 to 24-year-olds also owed at least £10,000 - about one out of 20 people in that age group.
"With many unsecured borrowing products having high interest rates, many people are entrapped in debt, often only paying off the interest accrued every month as opposed to the capital they have borrowed," said Chris Holmes, chief executive of One Advice.
"Those caught in this situation need to take action otherwise it is likely that they will fall further into debt."
Last year, about 70,000 people in England and Wales became insolvent - for most, this means being declared bankrupt which can make it difficult to borrow money in future.
However, an increasing number of people are reaching deals with their creditors called individual voluntary arrangements, which involves a partial repayment.
Earlier this month, the government announced it was providing £45m to employ 500 independent debt advisers over the next two years.
The money will be used to help people in England and Wales gain personal advice on how to cope with their debts.
Through the government's Financial Inclusion Fund, it is being channelled to a number of organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureaux.