A new survey finds that African-Americans are much more likely than whites to be called by debt collectors, despite both groups reporting relatively equal levels of debt and repayment rates.

Just take a look at this chart:

debt collectors

Think tank Demos and the NAACP Economic Department collaborated to survey moderate-income American households with some credit card debt for the study. Black Americans weren't any more likely than whites to be late on a payment, the survey found, and they were also no more likely than whites to declare bankruptcy or get evicted.

So what gives? It's not clear exactly why debt collectors seem to be going after one race more than the other, but the study's findings could be the result of one unfortunate reality: Black Americans tend to have lower credit scores than white Americans, research has shown. And that gap got wider as a result of the financial crisis -- subprime lenders were more likely to target African-Americans during the housing boom. Those loans, with higher interest rates, were more likely to default. The result: credit scores that could be marred "decades," as the Washington Post pointed out in 2012.

"African-American households are more likely to have been called by bill collectors because they are more likely to have blemishes on their credit history that would send debts to collection agencies," Catherine Ruetschlin, an author of the Demos report, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.

The economic recovery hasn't been kind to African-Americans: The unemployment rate for blacks (12.5 percent) is more than double that of whites (6.2 percent), according to the most recent jobs report. In fact, the jobless rate for blacks now is much higher than the overall unemployment rate in October 2009 (10 percent), the highest it got in the aftermath of the recession.

"Those disadvantages mean that African-Americans are more likely to face financial insecurity and have poor credit scores as a result," Ruetschlin wrote.

Blacks also have a harder time than whites getting a home loan. They earn less than their white peers. They're much more likely to live in poverty and less likely to have health insurance.

Mark Schiffman, a spokesperson for ACA International, a trade association of third-party debt collectors, defended his industry as "color-blind." "They [the third-party agencies] don't get into the ethnic information," he told HuffPost. "Their job is to collect the debt, not give out the credit."

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • 10. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Texas

    > Gini Index: 0.4977 > Median income: $33,761 > Poverty rate: 34.5% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 1.8% The McAllen metro area was one of the nation’s poorest last year, with a median household income of just $33,761. Additionally, nearly 35% of the population lived below the poverty line, trailing only the Brownsville metro area, while 36.8% of the population lacked health care. This exceeded every other metro area in the United States. Last year, McAllen’s wealthiest 20% of households accounted for 52.6% of all income. For most occupations, wages in McAllen were significantly lower than their nationwide averages. The area has strong economic and cultural connections with the Mexican city of Reynosa, where drug violence has been a major problem. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 9. Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas

    > Gini Index: 0.4980 > Median income: $30,953 > Poverty rate: 36.1% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 1.8% Last year, 12.6% of Brownsville area households had an income of less than $10,000, the highest percentage in the nation. Brownsville also had the nation’s highest poverty rate, at 36.1%, and the lowest median household income, at just $30,953. Brownsville is one of the largest metro areas on the border between Texas and Mexico, with more than 415,000 residents as of last year. Across the border from Brownsville is Matamoros, which has close economic ties to its Texan neighbors. Drug violence remains problematic in Matamoros, and recent economic data for the country has been mixed. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 8. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.

    > Gini Index: 0.5021 > Median income: $46,648 > Poverty rate: 17.5% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 6.2% The percentage of people living below the poverty level in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the country, was slightly above the national rate, at 17.5%. But the region’s urban areas are significantly poorer — the urban poverty rate in 2012 was 28.3%, compared to 16.3% in suburban areas. Income in Miami was greatly concentrated among the top-earning households last year, with the top 5% of households accounting for more than a quarter all income. According to a study conducted by a University of Central Florida economist, average annual wages in the region are expected to increase over the next few years, which could help curb income inequality. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 7. Lafayette, La.

    > Gini Index: 0.5035 > Median income: $46,813 > Poverty rate: 17.9% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 6.1% The Lafayette area has a higher proportion of residents both among the top earners and the very poor, although not to the same extremes that some of the other metro areas with high inequality have. The region’s poverty rate in 2012 was 17.9%, slightly higher than the national rate of 15.9%. An estimated 6.1% of households brought in $200,000 or more, just barely higher than the national rate of 5.9%. However, the top 20% of all households in the Lafayette area took home more than 53% of all area income for 2012, while the bottom 20% of households had just a 3% share of area income. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 6. Jackson, Miss.

    > Gini Index: 0.5039 > Median income: $42,604 > Poverty rate: 22.2% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 4.8% More than 22% of the Jackson area population lived below the poverty line, among the higher rates for metro areas. However, poverty remains especially problematic within the city proper, where 32.5% of the population lived below the poverty line. This was well above the 17.4% poverty rate for the area’s suburbs. Nearly 7% of Jackson households earned less than $10,000 annually, versus 5% nationally. Wealth in Jackson is overwhelmingly concentrated among the wealthiest households in the area. The top 20% of households accounted for nearly 54% of all income, while almost one-quarter of all income in the area went to the top 5%. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 5. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Penn.

    > Gini Index: 0.5049 > Median income: $63,982 > Poverty rate: 14.8% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 11.3% More than 19 million people reside in the New York metro area. The area is also home to many of the nation’s wealthiest individuals, living in and around the city. Last year, over 11% of household incomes exceeded $200,000, nearly double the national rate. However, the lower 60% of households by income accounted for less than a quarter of the area’s annual total, and together earned less than the top 5% of households. Even within New York City, there were large disparities. While the poverty rate in Manhattan was roughly 18% last year, 31% of all residents in the Bronx lived below the poverty line. The Bronx’s median household income was $32,460, while in Manhattan, it was more than $67,000. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 4. Albany, Ga.

    > Gini Index: 0.5311 > Median income: $34,469 > Poverty rate: 26.9% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 3.6% More than 12% of households in the Albany area had less than $10,000 in total income in 2012, more than all but one other metro area in the United States. Additionally, nearly 27% of the area’s population lived below the poverty line as of last year, among the worst poverty rates in the nation. Crime also has been problematic as the area’s economy has struggled. Overall, the area’s wealthiest 5% of households accounted for 27% of all income in 2012, more than all but three other metropolitan areas. Earlier in the year, the area received a boost from the increased demand from China for Georgia peanuts. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 3. Naples-Marco Island, Fla.

    > Gini Index: 0.5343 > Median income: $54,126 > Poverty rate: 13.8% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 9.6% Because of its gulfside location, the Naples metropolitan area includes several large and wealthy retirement communities and beach resorts. As of 2012, an estimated 7% of all properties in the area were worth at least $1 million, compared to just 2% of all homes nationwide. The region’s housing market has recovered, which according to The Naples Daily News has resulted in many low-income residents being priced out of the area. As of 2012, the richest 5% of the metro area bring in an estimated 30.8% of the area’s total income, compared to just 22.43% nationally. The bottom 40% of earners account for just 10.6% of income. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.

    > Gini Index: 0.5459 > Median income: $79,841 > Poverty rate: 8.9% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 21.8% The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area, which comprises all of Fairfield County, is home to some of the wealthiest corporations and individuals in the country. An estimated 12.7% of homes in the area are worth at least of $1 million, compared to just 2% of all homes nationwide. More than 20% of all households earn $200,000 or more. The top 5% of earners bring in nearly 30% of the region’s income, and the top 20% of earners bring in roughly 58%. With all the area’s wealth, there are still some pockets of severe poverty. For example, the city of Bridgeport is one of the poorest cities in the nation. More than one in four of its residents lived in poverty last year, including nearly 38% of the population under age 18. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>

  • 1. Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla.

    > Gini Index: 0.5610 > Median income: $40,413 > Poverty rate: 17.2% > Pct. with income over $200,000: 7.1% While 7.1% of households earned more than $200,000 last year, among the higher rates in the nation, no metro area had a greater degree of income inequality than the Sebastian-Vero Beach metro area. In 2012, 33.8% of all household income earned belonged to the wealthiest 5% of households, a higher percentage than any other metro area in the United States. At the same time, the median household income in the area was just over $40,000, versus slightly more than $51,000 nationwide. Further, more than 19% of residents do not have health insurance, well above the national rate of 14.8%. <a href="http://247wallst.com/special-report/2013/11/04/cities-with-the-widest-gap-between-the-rich-and-poor/#ixzz2kGbEEGSe" target="_blank">Read more at 24/7 Wall St.</a>