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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/29/2014 (8 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Credit card bills, child support, and parking tickets - it's all adding up

Some call it the American way, and it's become a most uncomfortable fact of life for many Americans. Personal debt is at an all-time high, and at least one in three Americans, 77 million people, have had their debt referred to collection agencies as a result.

One in three American adults are so far behind in personal debt that many of their accounts have been referred to collections.

One in three American adults are so far behind in personal debt that many of their accounts have been referred to collections.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/29/2014 (8 months ago)

Published in Business & Economics

Keywords: Indebtedness, credit cards, personal debt, credit reports, collections


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to a new report by the Urban Institute study, an examination of non-mortgage debt, including credit card bills, car loans, medical bills, child support payments and even unpaid parking tickets have many U.S. citizens over the barrel.

Debt in many collection accounts ranged from as little as $25 to a whopping $125,000. Overall, the average amount of debt owed was $5,200. These figures proved true for all area of America.

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The state of Nevada had the highest percentage of residents with debt in collections at 47 percent, as well as the highest average amount owed, $7,198. That was helped in part by the Las Vegas metro area, where 49 percent of residents had debt in collections.

The state of North Dakota had the lowest percentage of residents with debt in collections at just 19 percent, while the District of Columbia had the lowest average dollar amount owed per person at $3,547.

The American southern states had the highest percentage of people, as high as 44 percent in some parts, while the Northeast had the lowest at less than 30 percent.

And among the 100 largest metropolitan areas, Minneapolis-St. Paul had the lowest percentage of residents with debt in collections at 20 percent, while McAllen, Texas claimed the highest percentage at 51 percent.

For a credit card debt, bills generally remain unpaid for six months before they are referred to collections. Time varies for other unpaid debts, such as parking tickets and medical bills.

Once an unpaid debt is in collections, it can follow one of three courses, according to the Urban Institute report. The creditor can charge it off and sell it to a debt buyer, put the account into default or seek to collect what's owed through an in-house department or a third-party debt collector. In either case, the cost to the consumer is high and long-lasting.

"[It] can harm credit scores, which can tip employers' hiring decisions, restrict access to mortgages, and even increase insurance costs," Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute says.

The case can stay on your credit report for up to even years even if you've paid off the debt and lower your credit score for years.

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