More Swedes seeking debt relief
According to the state debt collection agency Kronofogden, which calls itself the Enforcement Authority, so far this year around 4800 people have applied for debt relief in Sweden.
That’s a major increase, says the agency’s Chief Operations Officer Lena Bäcker.
"We’ve seen a drastic increase in the past year," she says. "During the first six months of 2012 there were 25 percent more applications, compared to last year."
The increase, she says, is because of the poor economy, increased awareness among Swedes that personal bankruptcy is an option, and a change in the rules that lets old debts be included in applications for relief.
The agency estimates that there are around 400,000 people in Sweden with major debts. Swedish Radio News talked to one of them, who they called Johan.
He says he got into debt through buying things he couldn’t afford.
"I got into a situation," he says, "where I began to order things I didn’t even need. The bills piled up, and it was just too much."
Shopping made Johan feel better. By the time he found out that this reflected a mental disorder, he was buried in debt.
"I just had no control," he says. "Because of the interest the debts just grew, and I finally stopped opening my mail."
Because of situations like Johan’s the Enforcement Authority’s Lena Bäcker says they are devoting more resources to deal with the growing problem.
"As the agency’s COO I’ve decided to take additional measures, both financially and personnel," she says, "to deal with the pressure we’ve faced during the Spring."
According to Lena Bäcker, the agency approves between 65 and 70 percent of all applications for debt relief.