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December a tough month for debt collectors

Jan 06, 2013 Philip Burgess

It may have been tough for debt collectors to get in the holiday mood this month. That's because consumers are choosing to spend any disposable income on extra gifts for their families or travel expenses rather than paying off their debt.

“There’s just more competition for every dollar, and when consumers think about the priorities for those dollars, fulfilling their outstanding obligation falls pretty low on that list," Thomas Oldani, vice president of the Ann Arbor Credit Bureau, told

The holidays also mean many families were out of town this month, away from their home phone. Furthermore, debt collectors are not allowed to call on official holidays under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Those who do are subject to punishment.

As obligations move away from holiday gifts in January, consumers won't necessarily focus on getting out of debt. Our economy is not as bad as it once was, but many consumers still find spending money on mortgage, rent, food, electricity or cars are the only payments they can afford to make.

“What typically happens is that it was not at the front of their mind, but now that they have a job they’re looking at replacing their old car, or looking at getting a home,” said Oldani.

Oldani hopes that as the economy improves, repaying debt will move to a top priority.