Collecting Consumer Debt in America
Robert M. Hunt
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Why should economic scholars study the consumer debt collection process? First, the cost and effectiveness of the collections process has implications for the pricing and availability of consumer credit. Second, changes in technology and the structure of credit markets have transformed the collections industry. Small mom-and-pop operations are increasingly being replaced by firms operating nationally, collecting on billions of dollars in bad debt purchased from creditors.
This article explores how creditors and their agents attempt to collect past-due consumer debt, particularly unsecured debt. Creditors have a number of remedies open to them, but their effectiveness is limited by the fact that consumers can file for bankruptcy. Even outside of bankruptcy, consumers enjoy a variety of legal protections, including some they may not be aware of.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: collections, collection agencies, debt buyers, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
JEL Classification: G20, G28, D14working papers series
Date posted: June 22, 2007
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