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Lie, Walk Away and Shrug Off Bad Credit? We're OK With That

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- No doubt about it, Americans have had a tough past few years as a wheezing, gasping economy lowered living standards and forced many to re-evaluate how they view key personal financial themes such credit and debt.

The figures don't lie:

In fact, Americans have been beaten down so much over the past few years that many have shrugged their shoulders, readjusted their attitudes on money, credit and debt and are more willing to cut corners financially or even ignore bad financial news. That's the conclusion of a study from ID Analytics, a San Diego consumer risk management firm.

The IDA study points out three breaking points for U.S. consumers that show just how significantly attitudes about money (especially debt) have shifted since the advent of the so-called Great Recession:

  • It's OK to walk away from a home loan. Sixty-eight percent of Americans say it's OK to strategically default on a mortgage debt and walk away from a mortgage obligation with no penalty or accountability. The study suggests a representative 13% of Americans would "likely" default on a mortgage loan and 17% "know someone" who has defaulted on a home mortgage.
  • It's OK to lie about credit. IDA found that 17% of Americans would "exaggerate" personal financial information to get credit or a loan.
  • It's OK to have a lousy credit score. The IDA study also says 36% of Americans say it's "socially acceptable" to have a low credit score.

Why the attitude?

The IDA study doesn't say, but all the talk of a "new normal" may not be mere hyperbole. U.S. consumers, it seems, have taken their a personal financial inventory since the Great Recession and concluded they are not only significantly worse off before the recession hit but learning to live with that downhill financial slide.

"Our research into the consumer opinion of the economic crisis of 2008 found alarming results," explains John Zogby, senior analyst at JZ Analytics, which conducted the survey for IDA. "What jumped out is how many Americans feel it is acceptable for homeowners to walk away from a mortgage and go into foreclosure. If Americans carry on with that mindset, it will continue to cause problems as the economy undergoes a slow recovery."

Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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