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Study says statistics on unmanageable debt are inaccurate

A great deal of the statistics that are released concerning money matters are the result of research that is conducted using participant surveys. As with any piece of research, the results are only as good as the data that is collected. One recent study suggests that many people will provide inaccurate information when asked about their debt status. This means that much of what is commonly known about unmanageable debt could be completely false, which will be of interest to many California residents.

The study looked at the data collected when consumers were asked to report their debt levels on the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances. Those numbers were compared with information shared by the Federal Reserve Bank. When the two numbers were compared, researchers found that there was a difference of nearly $415 billion.  

Researchers believe that some of the difference can be chalked up to mistakes on the part of survey participants. Some people may be unaware of the full range of their outstanding debt, while others could be in the dark about debt racked up by a spouse or partner. However, a great deal of the difference might come down to the shame that many people feel when asked about their debt levels. According to surveys, approximately 70 percent of Americans feel that credit card debt carries more stigma than other types of debt, such as mortgages or student loans. It is possible that survey participants intentionally downplay their debt level when asked.

This information suggests that unmanageable debt could play a greater role in the lives of Americans than previously thought. For those in California who are ashamed of how much debt they have acquired, it is important to know that there are options for debt relief. For some, a conscientious program of debt repayment can eliminate those obligations. Others might be better served by filing for personal bankruptcy, which can lead to a faster resolution of debt issues.

Source: USA Today, "Embarrassed Americans underreport credit card debt by $415 billion", Erin El Issa, Feb. 27, 2016

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