Recent survey data finds that Americans are continuing to struggle with sustaining sufficient credit scores and holding down their debts.
According to Mintel, a firm that specializes in marketing intelligence, 36 percent of Americans say they have had difficulty paying their bills over the past two years. The poll noted that among that population, less than half had sought help from a debt consolidation agency or other consumer credit entity.
"With the recent economic crisis impacting people’s finances, it's not surprising that a substantial portion of the population has been struggling with debt. It is surprising, however, that we saw unemployed respondents report less trouble than those with jobs. This could be because they’re contending with fewer debts, or it could mean they’ve given up trying to pay their loans," said Susan Menke of Mintel.
The survey noted that people aged 25-44 had been more likely to report difficulty with their bills, while 39 percent of women had acknowledged such problems compared to 33 percent of men.
Of those who did seek help with debt problems, 28 percent said they had gone straight to their credit card issuing bank, while 24 percent had approached their mortgage lender. About half of all such requests were said to involve credit card debt, compared to the 36 percent of cases involving mortgage loans.
The survey also found that people were more likely to focus on keeping ahead with their mortgage payments, although other data released earlier this year found that consumers have become somewhat more focused on paying down their credit card balances. This may be due to the growing trend in recent years that has seen more people falling underwater on mortgages due to lower property values.
Those who do fall behind on monthly payments can see substantial damage inflicted on their credit score. This has remained fairly common in an economy that has seen the unemployment rate stubbornly hover around the 10 percent mark.
In some cases though, there can also be legal ramifications of not paying off one's debt. For example, a recent article in the Southeast Texas Record newspaper told the story of a man with a credit card bill of more than $14,000 who ended up being sued by his financial institution after he failed to send in a payment for more than six months.