Debt collectors: Biz is great but harder than ever

By WAYNE PARRY | September 21, 2011 | 2:35 AM EDT

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — These are the best of times, and the worst of times, for America's debt collectors.

At a conference this week in Atlantic City, debt collectors said the struggling economy has created more potential business than ever. But at the same time, it also makes it harder than ever to get debtors to pay up.

Harry Strausser is president of a Northeast collectors' association. He says businesses nationwide placed $150 billion worth of debt with collection agencies last year. Of that total, agencies were able to collect about $40 billion.

Collectors say they realize the struggling economy makes it harder for people to pay what they owe. Some will accept as little as $5 or $10 a month on payment plans.