`My Dog Ate My Checkbook'

"The check is in the mail" just doesn't cut it anymore. Instead, says Les Kirschbaum, president of Mid-Continent Agencies, one of the largest collection agencies in the U. S., deadbeats are growing far more creative in their temporizing.

Topping the list of Kirschbaum's favorite excuses of 1992 is the one about the debtor, the Mid-Continent agent, and the paternity suit. It seems that a debtor was taking birth-control pills, which, in combination with her financial woes, caused her severe headaches. Her physician ordered her to eliminate either her pills or her source of stress--her bills. So she threatened to sue the bill collector if she were forced off the pill and became pregnant.

It has also become convenient for debtors to blame their computers, says Kirschbaum. Maybe soon the excuse of choice will be: "The check is in the modem."

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