A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
Earlier this year, the state comptroller’s office issued a report about consumers’ credit card debt in New York state.
The information, which is largely based on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s data, shows how people are managing their households within their local economies and serves as a basis for comparison when it comes to household finances.
The total credit card debt in New York was $58.2 billion, the fourth highest amount of all states.
This is not surprising in light of the fact New York is the fourth most populous state.
However, when it comes to credit card debt on a per capita basis, New Yorkers’ balances were 20% higher than the national average at about $3,710.
The per capita debt earned New York the 7th highest in credit card balances.
The recession and then gradual economic recovery are reflected in a 10-year credit card debt look-back period.
New York’s credit card debt per capita was highest in 2008 and then declined significantly as the economy rebounded from the recession.
The trend began to reverse in 2014 and average credit card borrowing shows a gradual increase through 2017.
The trend is similar across the U.S.
Regional comparisons show vast differences between average credit card balances.
In Manhattan, the Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island, the average balances were the highest while in the Bronx, Utica-Rome, Syracuse, Watertown-Fort Drum area, the balances were among the lowest.
Despite the lower credit card balances in places like the Bronx, Utica-Rome, Watertown, and Syracuse, payment delinquency rates are higher in these areas probably because the economies in these regions trail the economies elsewhere in the state.
Regardless of the facts set forth above, consumers should be careful when using credit cards in light of the fact that excessive consumer debt can create significant hardship.
Prior to obtaining and using a credit card, the consumers should be aware of interest and fee terms for each card because they can vary greatly depending on credit history and the credit card company.
The Federal Trade Commission (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/credit-and-loans) provides helpful hints for holding and using a credit card and also offers online household budgeting tools.
The Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection can help consumers know their rights and obligations and can be reached at 1-800-697-1220.
Information on identity theft and how to access a credit report can be found at https://www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection/identity_theft/protect_yourself_from_identity_theft/check_your_credit_reports.htm or by calling the above number.
Free and low-cost consumer counseling is available at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling which can be reached at 1-800-388-2227 or at www.nfcc.org.
To read the full report, visit https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/economic/credit-card-debt-2018.pdf.
If you have any questions or comments regarding this or any other state issue, please contact me.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected], or by calling (315) 598-5185.
You also can friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.