A report released Tuesday by the Urban Institute shows more than a third of American adults have debt currently in collections.
And Hoosiers aren’t faring any better.
Thirty-five percent of all Indiana adults are currently so far delinquent on at least one bill that they’ve been reported to a collections agency. That’s right in line with the national average.
It typically takes about 180 days of nonpayment for a bill to go into collections, which can lead to more aggressive tactics from debt servicers, including harassing calls and wage garnishment.
Joe Schenkel with the nonprofit credit counselor Money Management International in Fort Wayne says many people are passive about their finances, waiting too long to address problems they’re having.
He encourages consumers to tackle potential payment problems head-on, to communicate with debt servicers, and to get help if needed.
“Get that financial life in order, take action on it. Be in control. The only person who can control the finances is you,” Schenkel said. “Sometimes it takes some self-discipline and some sacrifice, so reach out and contact the appropriate organizations and get some help.”
Schenkel says it’s especially important for people to create and stick to a budget and regularly check their credit report.
Credit reports can be reviewed free of charge.