Byline: Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Editor
DEBT collection agencies are chasing a staggering [pounds sterling]58billion - equivalent to [pounds sterling]1,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.
The total has shot up by [pounds sterling]6billion in just six months and demonstrates how ordinary Britons are unable to keep up with repayments on loans, credit cards and other finance.
The figures make clear that a huge 'debt bounty' has been placed on the heads of thousands of individuals at a time when the economy is in double-dip recession.
Some collection agencies involved have a reputation for being heavy-handed and threatening, bombarding people with telephone calls, letters and visits at home and work. In some cases, agencies are sending debtors photos of their own homes as a way of frightening them into paying up.
Huge fees are often added to the original debt, making repayments even more difficult.
This is the first time details of the number and value of unpaid debts has been published in a study by the Credit Services Association (CSA), the national body for the UK debt collection industry.
The figures are a measure of the consumer debt passed to Debt Collection Agencies (DCAs) or sold to Debt Buyers, which specialise in buying personal debt cheaply and then pursuing the individuals to pay up.
The association said 32million debts were being pursued, an increase of 4million in the past six months.
The growth in so-called payday loan firms, which offer short-term loans at high rates of interest, is one reason for the rise in people being chased for debts.
The CSA said local councils, government departments and agencies were also taking a more aggressive approach by employing private debt collection agencies. …