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Number of Women with More than $50,000 in Debt on the Rise

Recent research also finds upper income women facing new debt challenges

COLUMBIA, MD (Aug. 16, 2010) - Forty-five percent of women seeking debt relief assistance have more than $50,000 in household debt, up from 33 percent of women just two years ago. Among the women seeking assistance in dealing with their debt, a growing number come from high income families or women who are widowed or divorced.

Those are just some of the findings of a new study on women and debt conducted by CareOne Debt Relief Services, one of the nation's largest networks of debt relief providers. The study, "Women, Debt and the Recession: A Snapshot of the Changing Face of Debt in America from CareOne Debt Relief Services," compared the debt, income, age and marital status of 50,000 CareOne customers from two six-month windows - one from October 2007 through March 2008 and one from October 2009 through March 2010.

"The recent recession has impacted almost every family in the country, placing a particular burden on women who traditionally manage a family's savings" said Jenny Realo, executive vice president and chief product officer for CareOne Services, Inc. "As a result, we have seen a drastic shift in the kinds of people reaching out for help in managing their debt."

Among the findings:

  • While the number of women with more than $50,000 in debt grew significantly, the percentage of women with less than $15,000 in debt actually declined, with that category of women now comprising less than 30 percent of all women seeking debt relief assistance.
  • The increase in debt greater than $50,000 touched all regions of the country. But four states - Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington - saw more than a 50 percent increase in the number of CareOne customers with more than $50,000 in debt.
  • More women from upper income households are seeking debt assistance. CareOne has seen a 38 percent increase in the portion of women seeking debt assistance with an annual household income greater than $60,000.
  • The percentage of widowed and divorced women seeking assistance has risen dramatically over the last two years, while the share of single and separated women seeking help has declined.
  • Women who are retired or nearing retirement are more likely to seek debt relief assistance now than before the recession, while a smaller share of younger women are seeking help.

"While some debt relief providers have received a lot of negative publicity lately, the truth is a growing number of people are finding real help from legitimate providers such as CareOne," Realo said. "The recent recession left a lot of people in a financial situation they were unprepared for, as our research shows. Every day we have women coming to us who never thought they would need help paying off credit card bills or other debt. But something in their lives has changed, and they are finding they need help, whether that means creating a household budget for the first time or getting some assistance in managing their debt."

For more information on "Women, Debt and the Recession: A Snapshot of the Changing Face of Debt in America from CareOne Debt Relief Services," or to speak with Jenny Realo about the study and its findings, contact Suzanne Cramer at scramer@careonecredit.com.

About CareOne Debt Relief Services

Providers of CareOne Debt Relief Services have helped 4.5 million people across the United States with their debt. In 2009 alone, CareOne providers helped consumers pay down more than $719 million in debt.

CareOne providers take a holistic approach to assisting customers with their debt and review each situation to create achievable financial solutions. CareOne provides a full range of services including credit counseling, debt management, debt settlement, as well as free referrals to bankruptcy attorneys if that is in the best interest of the consumer.

For more on the providers of CareOne services, visit www.CareOneCredit.com.

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