More than 20 million Americans have received credit card forgone balances totaling more than $4 trillion in the last five years, according to data released by the Federal Reserve on Tuesday.
And according to the analysis, those people could have been forgiven up to $4,000 by credit card companies.
The data also showed that of the 20 million people who have received a credit card forgiven balance, 7.7 million have had their payments forgiven.
That number has more than doubled from 2016 to 2017, according the analysis.
“It’s a big deal,” said John B. Tumulty, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
“It’s not something that happens every year.
But it’s a trend.”
The figures are based on data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Experian, two of the largest credit card data providers.
The analysis found that of all the people who received credit cards forgiven in 2017, 12.7 percent had been reimbursed for $5,000 or more in loans, up from 5.1 percent in 2016.
The remaining 5.7% had their debt forgiven at a rate of 2.9% or less.
Those figures include people who are still in collections.
Borrowers who have not yet filed a claim for their forgiven debts are also being encouraged to contact their creditors and ask them to pay them back.
“The bottom line is that if you have forgiven debt, you can have the credit card company pay it back,” said Michael Smith, the CEO of Borrowers Anonymous.
“If you’ve forgiven the debt, and you haven’t filed for bankruptcy, you’re not eligible for forgiveness.”
“If you have a $10,000 bill, the company can forgive it for a fraction of the cost,” he added.
“If it’s not a loan, it’s still forgiven, and the amount forgiven doesn’t affect your ability to pay it off.”
The most recent year for which the CFPB data was available was the second quarter of 2017.