US consumer bankruptcies up 30% in 1st half '08

WASHINGTON - ALMOST half a million US consumers filed for bankruptcy protection in the first half of 2008 - 30 per cent more than the same time last year - as they struggled against a weak economy, steep decline in home values and rising debt, the American Bankruptcy Institute said on Wednesday.
Filings rose to 494,610 between Jan 1 and June 30 from 380,544 in the first six months of 2007, ABI said in a statement.

In June, there were 82,770 bankruptcy filings, a 20.7 per cent increase from a year-ago, the nonpartisan group said in a statement. Sequentially, June filings were down 9.3 per cent from 91,214 filings in May.

Chapter 13 filings in June made up 32.6 per cent of all consumer bankruptcies, the ABI said, slightly higher than May.

Chapter 13 allows consumers to keep their property while budgeting future income to pay off debt, such as money owed to credit card companies.

Chapter 7 lets individuals or businesses liquidate their assets to pay off creditors.

Filings under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code are made primarily by companies looking to re-organise and pay off debts while remaining in business. -- REUTERS


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