One in Nine Americans Have Contemplated Bankruptcy, Says New Survey; Personal bankruptcy filings climbing rapidly
EAGAN, Minn., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ — The ongoing recession — with rising layoffs, home foreclosures and credit defaults — is clearly placing pressure on the finances of millions of Americans.
Twelve percent of Americans have either filed or considered filing for bankruptcy, according to a new survey by FindLaw.com, the most popular legal information Web site.
The number of consumer bankruptcy filings has nearly doubled in the last three years, from 573,000 in 2006 to 1,064,927 in 2008, according to the National Bankruptcy Research Center. According to the new FindLaw survey:
- Ten percent of Americans say they have considered filing for personal bankruptcy at some point in their lives.
- Two percent of Americans say they have actually filed for personal bankruptcy at some point in their lives.
“Bankruptcy can be a powerful, useful tool for debtors,” said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor at FindLaw.com. “However, it is often a complicated and difficult process, and there are many misconceptions about what bankruptcy can and cannot do to help relieve debt burdens. For instance, some debts — such as taxes, student loans, child support and alimony — are typically not discharged in bankruptcy. In addition, there are alternatives to bankruptcy, including credit counseling and debt management. All of the various options have pros and cons, depending on a person’s particular situation, so it’s important that people have competent, qualified legal help if they are contemplating bankruptcy.”
The FindLaw survey was conducted using a demographically balanced telephone survey of 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus-or-minus three percent.