A Third of US Is on Debt Collectors' Books

Average amount owed: $5K

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 29, 2014 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – More than a third of Americans with credit scores have debt "in collections"—meaning one in three of us has been reported to collection agencies, a study finds. That's a total of 77 million people whose non-mortgage debt is significantly overdue, the Urban Institute notes. The study includes debts ranging from credit card and medical bills to parking tickets, CNNMoney notes. And the widespread issue "can tip employers' hiring decisions, or whether or not you get that apartment," an analyst tells the AP.

The average debt is $5,178, the AP notes. The problem exists all over the country, but Southern and Western states are facing the most trouble. Among the report's findings:

  • Nevada has the highest percentage of people with debt in collections: 47%. In Las Vegas, the figure is 49%. North Dakota has the lowest at 19%, CNNMoney reports.
  • The average amount owed is also highest in Nevada at $7,198. Washington, DC, has the lowest figure at $3,547.
  • At 51%, McAllen, Texas, has the highest percentage of affected people among the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. At least 43% of people in Houston, Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio have debt in collections. Minneapolis-St. Paul has the lowest percentage among the 100 biggest metropolitan areas, with 20%.
The complete study is here.

More than a third of Americans with credit scores have debt in collections.
More than a third of Americans with credit scores have debt in collections.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
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