The state of the U.S. credit market continues to plague investors, lenders and borrowers alike. While borrowers, particularly in the small business sector, tend to blame banks for overly tight lending standards, creditors themselves pout the blame for low activity on a lack of demand. Whatever the reason, small business lending increased January, marking the 18th consecutive month of double-digit growth. Specifically, Thomson Retuers/PayNet Small Business Lending Index rose by 18 percent in January. However, many analysts hold that otherwise creditworthy consumers and small business owners are still not able to meet their borrowing needs. Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke expressed similar concern in a testimony before the House financial services committee Thursday morning. Bernanke cited a recent Fed paper that claims the credit market is yet to return to pre-recession levels - a situation that has prolonged the recovery and further complicated matters for debt collection agencies. "The extraordinarily tight standards that currently prevail reflect, in part, obstacles that limit or prevent lending to creditworthy borrowers," the paper reads, according to the Washington post. "Less than half of lenders are offering mortgages to borrowers with a FICO score of 620 and a down payment of 10 percent."