Writeoffs for bad loans, excluding mortgages, have dropped almost to pre-recession levels, according to a report from Equifax.
Through the end of April, the amount of writeoffs in 2012 for non-mortgage loans, such as auto loans and credit cards, totaled $26.2 billion. This was a 52% decline from April 2009, according to Equifax's April National Consumer Credit Trends Report. In 2006, writeoffs for these types of loans totaled $24 billion.
Lenders are writing off fewer loans because consumers have improved in repaying their debt and there are fewer bankruptcies, Equifax said Wednesday. An increase in auto loan balances have contributed to non-mortgage balances rising 1.5% since May 2011. Credit card balances are now declining at a slower rate because of increases in originations and payment improvements that are similar to pre-recession levels, the Atlanta company said.
"Consumers are now starting to see greater accessibility to credit opportunities and they are taking advantage of those opportunities, though in moderation," Amy Crews Cutts, Equifax's chief economist, said in a news release. "The American household's balance sheet is looking much better now, with debt burdens down significantly due to both writeoffs and consumer-led deleveraging, and slow but significant improvements in the economy."