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TransUnion: Consumers paying off auto loans before mortgages, credit cards

Apr 03, 2012 Phil Burgess

Consumers appear to be paying off their auto loans before their credit card and mortgage debts, according to the results of a TransUnion study released this week. The findings were gleaned from 2011 consumer delinquency data. Specifically, the report found 9.5 percent of surveyed consumers were delinquent on an auto loan while current on their credit cards and mortgages. Significantly more respondents (17.3 percent) were delinquent on credit card balances while current on their auto and mortgage loans. Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, 9.1 percent were delinquent on a mortgage while current on their auto and credit cards dues. "The reversal in payment patterns between credit cards and mortgages has been well documented, but our findings were illuminating because it had not been previously clear that auto loans were considered a higher priority by consumers than both credit cards and mortgages," said Ezra Becker, vice president of research and consulting at TransUnion's financial unit. High unemployment and weak real estate values have encouraged consumers to focus on paying of personal credit over mortgages, but the stress placed on auto loans dues, for whatever reason, seems to triumph.