MINNEAPOLIS – ACA International applauds the Federal Trade Commission’s creation of National Consumer Protection Week, March 6-12, 2011, and encourages consumers to visit AskDoctorDebt.com for helpful, free information on debt collection and their rights.

ACA International and its non-profit Educational Foundation proudly created AskDoctorDebt.com, a free consumer-focused resource in English and Spanish to answer questions about debt collection and consumer rights.  “Debt collection can be complex and confusing so we created AskDoctorDebt.com   with straightforward information to provide consumers a tool they can trust without fear of gimmicks or being ripped off,” said ACA International Interim Chief Executive Officer Ted Smith.

According to the Federal Reserve, the total amount of consumer debt in the United States now exceeds a record $2.45 trillion (with an average credit card debt per household of more than $16,007). Whether a mortgage, medical bill, student loan, or credit card debt; the repayment of consumer and business credit is vital to our economy.  “Uncollected debt has serious impacts such as the higher cost for goods and services, a reduction in available credit, and in far too many cases, cause an organization to fail.  When organizations fail, people lose their jobs,” said Smith.

Businesses from Main Street to Wall Street rely on the repayment of credit to pay rent, employee’s salaries, utilities, taxes, insurance, and all other business expenses. In all, companies write off an average of more than $152 billion in bad debts each year, of which third party debt collectors recover more than $52 billion dollars on their behalf.

According to Smith, “It’s not only the non-profit and private sectors that benefit from debt collection.  Federal, state, and local government also rely on the repayment of billions of dollars in delinquencies including uncollected court fees, unpaid taxes, library fines, and traffic tickets. Increasingly they are engaging third party debt collectors to recover these debts as a means to close budget gaps, reduce the need for future tax increases, and keep more money in the pocket of hard working American consumers and small business owners.” More than 40 states use third party debt collection and in 2009 municipal governments reported $40 billion in uncollected debt placed with third party collectors for recovery.

“Harassment, threats and other illegal activity are unacceptable and violators must be held accountable. Our members are working with regulators, Congress and state leaders to ensure a balanced debt collection system that protects consumers and allows the legitimate collection of debt to function,” said Smith.

ACA International, the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, is the comprehensive, knowledge–based resource for success in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together more than 5,300 members worldwide, including third–party collection agencies, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendor affiliates. ACA International establishes ethical standards, produces a wide variety of products, services and publications, and articulates the value of the credit and collection industry to businesses, policymakers and consumers. For more information about ACA International, visit www.acainternational.org. For more information about ACA Education Foundation, visit www.acainternational/foundation.

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