Consumers Are Not Paying Down Debts

Consumers did not include paying down debt as one of their New Year's resolutions, according to a survey conducted on behalf of TransUnion.

The survey found that in 2007, one-quarter of consumers missed making one or more of their debt payments on time, with the bulk of the delinquencies coming in utility, credit card and medical debt areas.

And only 17% said that paying down debt is one of their top priorities for 2008, according to TransUnion. That's down from 22% who cited paying down debt as a priority in last year's survey.

Moreover, the survey found that consumers in the 35- to 49-year-old-age bracket are the ones most likely to express concern about mortgage payments.

Lucy Duni, director of consumer education for TransUnion's TrueCredit.com, said it is important for consumers to know that making regular on-time payments for all credit accounts is essential to long-term credit health. She urges consumers to set up automatic funds withdrawal to ensure that they don't miss a billing cycle. Consumers who find themselves in a credit bind should contact their lenders to explore special payment arrangements, she said.

"The drop in priority for paying down debt may be an indication that more consumers are struggling today just to maintain their financial status quo," Ms. Duni said in a news release.

The survey was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media, which interviewed 1,004 adults across America in mid-December.

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