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Increasing Number Of Women Falling Into Debt

COLUMBIA, MD -- Forty-five percent of women seeking debt relief assistance have more than $50,000in household debt, up from 33 percent of women just two years ago. Among the women seeking assistance in dealing with their debt, a growing number come from high income families or women who are widowed or divorced.

Those are just some of the findings of a new study on women and debt conducted by CareOne Debt Relief Services, one of the nation's largest networks of debt relief providers. The study, "Women, Debt and the Recession: A Snapshot of the Changing Face of Debt in America from CareOne Debt Relief Services," compared the debt, income, age and marital status of 50,000 CareOne customers from two six-month windows – one from October 2007 through March 2008 and one from October 2009through March 2010.

"The recent recession has impacted almost every family in the country, placing a particular burden on women who traditionally manage a family's savings" said Jenny Realo, executive vice president and chief product officer for CareOne Services, Inc. "As a result, we have seen a drastic shift in the kinds of people reaching out for help in managing their debt."

Among the findings:

  • While the number of women with more than $50,000 in debt grew significantly, the percentage of women with less than$15,000 in debt actually declined, with that category of women now comprising less than 30 percent of all women seeking debt relief assistance.
  • The increase in debt greater than $50,000 touched all regions of the country. But four states – MarylandOregon,Pennsylvania and Washington – saw more than a 50 percent increase in the number of CareOne customers with more than $50,000 in debt.
  • More women from upper income households are seeking debt assistance. CareOne has seen a 38 percent increase in the portion of women seeking debt assistance with an annual household income greater than $60,000.
  • The percentage of widowed and divorced women seeking assistance has risen dramatically over the last two years, while the share of single and separated women seeking help has declined.
  • Women who are retired or nearing retirement are more likely to seek debt relief assistance now than before the recession, while a smaller share of younger women are seeking help.



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