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Consumer Watch: Americans taking on more debt

At the end of 2017 Americans accumulated more debt, and financial specialists project higher debt numbers in 2018. (file)

Having problems talking with a debt collection company? A consumer program has letters at the ready to make that contact more clear. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says their most downloaded letters include ‘I need more info on this debt’ and ‘I do not owe this debt.’ The letters the Bureau provides allow you to understand how to better get the information you need from a debt collection agency, and you can find them here.

Total house hold debt did increase over the last three months of 2017. The biggest culprits include student loans, credit cards, and auto loans. The issue is that Americans like to buy stuff, and most of us use lines of credit to get there. From cars to your education, most people cannot drop the cash to fully pay for the service, and it shows.

According to the Center for Microeconomic Data there is a steady increase over the last six years with the highest point now. Debt by itself is not necessarily negative, if it is able to be paid off fully. According to the same quarterly report on debt, the amount of third party collections and bankruptcies, though not at its lowest point, is seeing a decrease compared to the last quarter.

Personal finance site NerdWallet found in its own survey, that income levels have grown slightly faster than cost of living, but the cost of medical care, food, and housing are growing faster than income.

After last year’s uptick, credit card debt will likely continue to increase this year.

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