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It's a horrifying number, especially when you consider that we are five years into a recovery.
About 77 million Americans have a debt in collections, a new report finds.
That amounts to 35 percent of consumers with credit files or data reported to a major credit bureau, according to the study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute and Encore Capital Group's Consumer Credit Research Institute.
Almost every community in America has a significant number of over-extended consumers.
And the problem might be even worse than this because 22 million low-income adults without credit were not included in this study.
Nevada has been hit the hardest with 47% of consumers with a credit file showing a debt in collections. The problem is especially widespread in the South and other non-union areas.
Bills sent to collections stay on credit reports for seven years.
The phrase "debt collection" normally brings to mind dealing with harassing phone calls, repeated letters and other efforts from third parties attempting to collect the payment. But not all consumers get hassled: some people may not even learn they've been sent to collections until they check their credit reports, the study noted.
1 in 20 people have bills at least 30 days past due.
However, because certain bills, such as medical bills and parking tickets, may not show up on a person's credit score until they are sent to collections, the total share of people falling behind on their bills may actually be much higher.
In a related note, I can't find any serious bankruptcy reform bills in Congress at the moment.