SAN DIEGO, Dec. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Encore Capital Group (NASDAQ: ECPG) today announced the launch of the Consumer Credit Research Institute (CCRI). The CCRI is a research organization dedicated to better understanding financially distressed consumers' decisions, choices, and activities in order to promote financial literacy, create new knowledge about this growing segment of the population, and develop innovative ways to support household financial recovery. "The CCRI will take a scientific approach to understanding the ways in which consumers get into financial trouble, and may point to consistently better ways to break the chronic debt cycles that can lead to ongoing financial distress," said Christopher Trepel, Ph.D., Managing Director of the CCRI and Encore's Chief Scientific Officer. "We are excited about this industry-leading effort to differentiate and describe an important, and often neglected, consumer segment. By working with top universities, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies, we hope to advance thinking in the areas of public policy, financial education, and business operations." The recent financial crisis highlights the need for new research and investment focused on these issues. While consumer spending is the single largest driver of the U.S. economy, traditional approaches to financial education have generally failed to prevent aggregate consumer indebtedness. As a result, effective financial literacy programs are of critical importance to individuals, households, communities, and the overall economy. At the same time, consumer decision-making is often poorly understood and, in the absence of high-quality research, policy makers are often forced to rely on anecdotes. This latest investment in cutting-edge consumer research is a natural extension of the sophisticated analytic strategy and broad investments in data and behavioral science made by Encore and its subsidiaries. As the country's largest publicly traded consumer debt buyer (by revenue), Encore's relationship to low- and middle-income Americans provides a unique perspective on household consumption and saving behavior.