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Credit card holders fell behind on their payments in October at the highest rate in five months, according to Fitch Ratings. The agency said yesterday that the weak job market and high debt loads consumers are carrying pushed its measure of the 60-day credit card delinquency rate to 4.41% from 4.22% in September.

That's just below the record rate of 4.45% seen in June. Late payments declined during the summer months.

Early stage delinquencies, or payments that are just one month past due, also rose, Fitch said. The increases followed bumps for both measures in September.

Fitch uses 60-days-past-due as an indicator of potential default. While it is still possible for consumers to make up payments when they are just two months past due, credit card companies often block further card use at that point, said Senior Director Cynthia Ullrich.

The result of the higher late payment rate will likely be higher charge-offs for banks and other credit card issuers. Charge-offs occur when a lender concludes the customer will no longer make payments, and writes down the balance on the account.

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