To most lenders, rising credit card delinquencies, high consumer debt levels, and record bankruptcy filings look like danger signs. But to finance companies that cater to homeowners with shoddy credit histories, they signal good times.

At this time of year, when consumers are struggling to dig out from under their holiday spending, business is especially brisk. Looking for a way to reduce the carry costs on their credit card accounts, consumers are turning to these so-called subprime lenders in droves.

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