Friday, September 25, 2015

Do Americans Know How Much They Owe?

Americans are not dummies about debt. When researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York compared self-reported household debt in the Survey of Consumer Finances with debt reported by lenders to Equifax, the totals pretty much matched—with two exceptions: credit card debt and student loans.

Credit card debt was under-reported by 37 percent, according to the analysis, and student loans by 25 percent. While there may be methodological reasons for the lowballing of these debts in the Survey of Consumer Finances, it also may be that Americans are less knowledgeable about their credit cards and student loans than other types of debt.

"The poorer repayment rates we observe for uncollateralized debts may suggest an association between debt awareness and debt repayment quality," the researchers conclude.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Economic Policy Review, Do We Know What We Owe? Consumer Debt as Reported by Borrowers and Lenders

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