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More than a third of Americans are in debt, according to statistics from the Urban Institute. Southern states are particularly high in their rates of delinquency, including Arkansas, where over 40 percent of the population is struggling to make payments on time each month. The most common debt for Arkansas consumers is mortgage debt, at 61.1 percent.
Consumers who are struggling to keep up with monthly payments have options. Credit counseling, debt consolidation and, as a last resort, bankruptcy, are among them. Bankruptcy should only be considered as a last resort because it will remain on a consumer's credit report for up to seven years and can affect credit rating.
While consumers are working out their options for debt repayment, they are protected by federal law from shady collection practices. Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are required to treat consumers fairly and are prohibited from engaging in certain practices in an attempt to recover money owed to creditors. The law prevents credit collection agencies from harassing consumers by requiring them to call only during set hours of the day, and never are they permitted to contact a consumer at their place of employment. Consumers also have the right to put a request in writing for the collection agency to stop calling them about the debt, which the agency must honor.
While there are a number of consumer credit counseling agencies and debt consolidation companies in the nation, it is best to stick with a company that is familiar with the proper practices in Arkansas that will be the most familiar with debt consolidation in the state.
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