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The Source: Debt Collection's Crippling Effects

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77 million Americans have debt in collections, a full third of everyone in the country with a credit line. According to the Urban Institute, they also owe an average of more than $5,000. Medical, credit cards and utility bills are for many Americans going unpaid. 

The process of buying those debts and collecting on them has evolved becoming increasingly aggressive with unprecedented numbers of people being taken to court as well as having their wages garnished.

NPR and ProPublica have been following the state of collections in a series running this week on Morning Edition showing the impacts of the collection business on people whose mounting debt has changed their lives. 


  • Paul Kiel, investigative reporter on debt in America for ProPublica.

*This is the first segment in the September 16 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM.

Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive