The average Texas resident has a credit score of 656, which is considered fair but not good, and has $6,902 in revolving debt according to figures from Experian. The consumer credit reporting agency’s annual State of Credit report reveals a growing North-South divide. Minnesota residents top the list with an average score of 709 while Mississippi residents have the nation’s lowest average credit scores. Experts are not surprised by the data as credit scores have been following this trend for about two decades.

The Experian report also provides insights into why consumers find it so difficult to improve their credit scores. Borrowers who are struggling financially generally have lower credit card limits and therefore use more of the revolving debt available to them. This can have a profound effect on credit scores even when monthly payments are made on time. More affluent borrowers may have better credit scores despite owing more money to credit card companies because their spending limits are much higher.

Maintaining a high credit score involves making payments on time and using only about 25 percent of the revolving debt available. However, this can be difficult for individuals or families who are struggling to make ends meet. Average credit scores conceal a rift between the affluent and those less well off. According to Experian’s figures, 22.3 percent of Americans have credit scores of 781 or higher while 19.8 percent of the nation’s consumers have scores of 600 or less.

Individuals and families with unmanageable financial situations often struggle for months or even years before exploring their debt relief options. This is largely due to the myriad myths surrounding personal bankruptcy. Attorneys with experience in this area may help dispel these misconceptions and explain that bankruptcy laws are designed to provide fresh starts and not punish poor decisions. Attorneys might also point out that filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy puts an end to creditor harassment and stops lenders from garnishing paychecks.