Study: 1 in 3 Americans Have a Delinquent Debt Problem

According to a study by the Urban Institute, one in three Americans has debt and unpaid bills in collections. The study looked non-mortgage debt... and found the delinquent debt ranges from medical bills to gym memberships. These numbers were supposed to be getting better with the economic recovery. If you've received one final notice too many you are not alone. According to the Urban Institute, every third person you pass on the street has a debt in collections. "A lot of our debt we get from clients is at least six months to a year old before we even get them" said Creditors Service Agency General Manager Jimmy Lakes. He says the delinquent debt they receive can vary anywhere from $17 to $30,000. We see just about everything: exterminating, fuel, veterinary services, just to name a few" said Lakes. "We will work with the debtor as best we can, but we also have to do it in a reasonable amount of time for the client" said Lakes. Having a delinquent debt problem has more than just a negative effect on your credit score, it can also prevent you from getting a job or an apartment. Financial consultant John Basten says if you are among the 35%, it is important to first get control of the debt you have. "Just looking at the ins and outs. What is the income you have and what are the expenses going out?" said Basten. Basten says patience is important and although it will take a while to get out of debt, each payment should be seen as a win. "Pay off that first piece of debt. That smaller amount first. Get that win and it snowballs" said Basten. Urban Institute says stagnant incomes may be to blame for this disturbing trend. In their study they found that wages have barely kept up with inflation in the 5 years since the recession.