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. In this article, Bob Hunt 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.

This article appeared in the Second Quarter 2007 edition of Business Review.

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