$175,862.27 in Credit Card Debt and a Bleg
I've been going through consumer bankruptcy filings recently and have been astounded by the levels of credit card debt that show up on some (but certainly not most) debtor's schedules of assets and liabilities. I've seen a bunch of cases with upwards of $60,000 of debt for a single debtor, a few with over $100,000, and the current record holder is $175,862.27. Yes, that's right, $175,862.27. That's larger than a lot of mortgages.
This debt was incurred on 25 cards from 12 different lenders, all major national financial institutions. No less than 9 of the cards and $80744.16 of the debt were for one lender, Bank of America. The debtor's annual post-tax income is listed at around $85,000, and the debtor has been in her current job and industry for a while.
These kind of cases ought to really make us ask what's going on with credit card lending. Clearly there is irresponsible borrowing. But it requires willing lenders. Cases like this look a lot like pushers and addicts. Unless we think a whole bunch of loan officers are routinely asleep at the switch, the best explanation is that card industry's business model is not based on getting loans paid off, but is instead, as Credit Slips guest blogger Ronald Mann has shown, a sweatbox aimed at generating returns by keeping consumers in a limbo of financial distress for as long as possible. If that's the case, we need to really rethink our model of credit card regulation and the BAPCPA provisions that stretch out the pre-bankruptcy period of financial distress.
So let me make a macabre request of those of you working in consumer bankruptcy trenches: would you send me a copy of any filings you encounter where there's over $100,000 of credit card debt on Schedule F? (These are public records once filed, so I don't think any confidentiality issues are involved.)