Besides big balances on credit cards, hidden debt also comes with some heavy emotional baggage.
"Sometimes a couple will come in because one spouse found out about the massive amounts of debt incurred by the other spouse," he says. "The 'wronged spouse' wants me to be angry, too, but I try to get to the root of the issue. Sometimes it's just that one spouse is a tightwad and the other spouse has been living under the gun and using credit cards to buy things for their kids."
Credit counselors say that clients go to great lengths to keep their family from finding out about their debt. They often open a P.O. box for the bills and even get a separate cell phone number to give to their creditors.
Rosemarie Willix, a certified credit counselor with InCharge Debt Solutions in Orlando, says she had a client who provided her sister's address in another state for correspondence relating to the $60,000 in store-card debt she had racked up. She was keeping her financial troubles a secret from her husband because he had helped her get out of debt in the past.
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