One-third of low- and middle-income consumers are using their credit cards to pay basic living expenses -- including their monthly mortgage, according to a new study released Oct. 12.However, the study -- sponsored by the Washington-based Center for Responsible Lending and New York-based Demos -- offered no hard dollar figures on the practice. CRL and Demos found that even though consumers are using home equity loans to pay down their credit cards, many households are still carrying huge card balances, increasing their overall debt levels. Researchers said 20% of consumers "who had paid off some credit card debt with a mortgage refinance in the last three years had added $12,000 to their mortgage debt, and at the time of the survey still had average credit card debt of $14,000." (See the Oct. 11 issue of National Mortgage News for full details.)

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