The 15 largest debt buyers last year purchased a combined face value estimated between $25.1 billion and $37.7 billion in delinquent credit card accounts, or 60% to 90% of total debt purchases of $41.9 billion, according to a survey by CardLine sister publication Collections & Credit Risk. The survey revealed the total face value of all types of accounts purchased by the top-ranked buyers–including such noncard accounts as utility debt, auto deficiencies, home equity lines of credit and more exotic assets such as health club membership dues–increased 32.2% from nearly $31.7 billion in purchases made during 2006. The credit card debt purchased included Visa, MasterCard, Discover and private-label credit cards. The debt purchasers did not estimate the total spent to purchase the accounts. Credit card charge-offs not yet placed with a collection agency are being sold for approximately 7 cents to 9 cents on the dollar. The amount can fall to as low as fractions of a cent on the dollar for delinquent accounts previously worked by several collection agencies. The top five U.S. debt purchasers by face value, as ranked by Collections & Credit Risk, are Sherman Financial Group, New York; Unifund, Cincinnati; Asset Acceptance Capital Corp., Warren, Mich.; Encore Capital Group, San Diego; and Portfolio Recovery Associates, Norfolk, Va.

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