May 23, 2008

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filings on the Rise

An article on Newsweek's website asserts that chapter 7 bankruptcy filings are following an upward trend, with more and more people seeking bankruptcy protection, despite recent changes to the law making it more difficult to file. Readers of this blog will know that I advocate bankruptcy as a way to avoid foreclosure; according to Newsweek, filing bankruptcy to deal with an imminent foreclosure is one of the reasons for the boom:

In some cases struggling homeowners are filing to prevent foreclosure. (A record high 243,353 homes went into foreclosure in April, according to data released on May 14 by RealtyTrac.) Squeezed by rising costs for everyday necessities like gas and groceries and unable to tap into their homes for temporary relief -- declining values have left some people owing more than their homes are worth; it's also more difficult to get home equity lines of credit or loans -- many people have turned to their credit cards "as a last resort," says Robert Lawless, a professor of law at the University of Illinois who follows bankruptcy trends.

While digging the debt hole deeper seems like it might be a good idea in the short term, filing bankruptcy now will help you avoid the costly penalties that credit card companies will saddle you with as your balance goes ever-upward. If you're thinking of filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy, be sure to visit LegalConsumer.com, my co-blogger's website, to try out his free means test calculator. The calculator can quickly tell you whether you qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy under the changes in the law that went into effect in early 2008.