Mortgage

1 in 3 Americans being chased by debt collectors

A new report form the Urban Institute shows how weak the U.S. economy is, and offers at least one reason for the housing doldrums – one in three Americans is so far behind in paying their bills that they are in collections.

An estimated 1 in 3 adults with a credit history — or 77 million people — are so far behind on some of their debt payments that their account has been put "in collections."

That's a key finding from a new Urban Institute study.

It examined non-mortgage debt, including credit card bills, car loans, medical bills, child support payments and even parking tickets.

The debt in collections ranged from as little as $25 to a whopping $125,000. But the average amount owed was $5,200.

Geographically, no area of the country is untouched.

Among the states, Nevada had the highest percentage of residents with debt in collections — 47% — as well as the highest average amount owed —7,198. That was helped in part by the Las Vegas metro area, where 49% of residents had debt in collections.

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