CareOne -- 'Tis the Season to Get Spending Under Control, Holiday Shopping Puts the Squeeze on American Wallets

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Americans are officially in shop till they drop mode, with the National Retail Federation predicting holiday spending to reach $457.4 billion this year. The increase of 5 percent in holiday spending will likely mean that by Jan. 1, Americans will face the traditional stack of bills and depleted bank accounts that go along with the unchecked trend of rising debt among U.S. consumers.

Consumers who turn to agencies that provide CareOne branded services are confident in the quality of financial education and debt management support they receive

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, signaling the start of the holiday season. For many Americans, however, it may as well be called Red-Ink Friday.

Consumer debt is a year-long battle, but the holiday shopping season puts even more emphasis on the problem, stretching credit card balances and putting the squeeze on bank accounts. As focus on debt increases during this time of year, more than 400,000 Americans sought assistance from the CareOne Credit Counseling agencies (careonecredit.com) in October, with that number expected to rise sharply over the next few months.

"Consumers who turn to agencies that provide CareOne branded services are confident in the quality of financial education and debt management support they receive," said CareOne spokeswoman Clarky Davis. "We are committed to providing the highest standards of customer service in the debt management industry."

The services provided by CareOne agencies will be in high demand after the holidays, with Americans expected to spend an average of $791 during the holiday season, up from $738 in 2005, according to the National Retail Federation. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of Web shopping this holiday season, say online analysts. The rate of holiday spending is expected to hit the $32 billion mark, according to JupiterResearch's "Online Retail Holiday Forecast, 2006." The record forecast is an increase of 18 percent over 2005 spending. The amount of shoppers is expected to rise as well, increasing six percent from the 2005 season to 114 million.

The numbers translate into likely scenarios where Americans will take on more debt for 2007. Average credit card debt for households with at least one card stands at roughly $9,000, according to CardWeb. That number has risen rapidly since 1990, when the average was about $3,000. More Americans than ever are teetering on the financial edge, with 36% of those who owe more than $10,000 on their cards having household incomes under $50,000, according to a VIP Forum analysis. An even more disturbing statistic is that bankruptcies set a record in 2003, with 1.6 million personal filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

"Consumer debt is an epidemic, one that is becoming much harder to control without the services of companies like CareOne agencies," said Davis. "Financial education is the key to combating this problem and CareOne agencies recognize that."

Agencies offering CareOne services provide customized solutions tailored to the needs of each situation. The common repayment program offered by these companies has an approximate duration of five years, offering consumers reduced interest rates and creditor fees, as well as manageable monthly creditor payments.

The CareOne brand demands the highest standards from its agencies, who offer high levels of customer care, around-the-clock access to account information, electronic payment options, monthly statements, strict privacy and ongoing support and counseling.

About CareOne Credit Counseling

The CareOne Credit Counseling service mark is owned by 3C Incorporated.

Organizations that bear the CareOne Credit Counseling service mark are industry leaders committed to providing consumers with superior financial fitness education and service.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Clarky Davis, Spokes Person

CareOne Credit Counseling Services

8930 Stanford Blvd

Columbia, MD 21045

410-910-2750

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