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The New Era of Electronic Payments

With an increase in past-due and delinquent accounts spurred by layoffs and decreasing incomes, debt collection departments have taken on more work. According to the American Banking Association, delinquencies jumped to 2.02 percent in the first quarter of 2003 from 1.64 percent in the fourth quarter of last year (AP Online, "Credit-Card Delinquencies Unchanged in 1Q," June 26, 2003). In early 2003, the Federal Reserve reported overall household debt had increased at a double-digit pace for the past five quarters. Additionally, the Fed said, household debt increased at a 10 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2003, with mortgage debt increasing at a 12 percent annual clip (Associated Press, All Business, "Can - or Will - Consumers Keep Spending?" July 2, 2003).

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