During the first half of 2008, ending June 30, the number of consumer bankruptcies filed rose by 28.8 percent compared with the first half of 2007, reports the American Bankruptcy Institute.

There were 503,749 consumer bankruptcies filed in first half 2008; in first half 2007 there were 391,105 consumer bankruptcies filed.

“The continued rise in bankruptcies to their highest levels since Congress changed the law points to the growing strain on family budgets,” said Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. “We expect this trend to continue through the end of the year, with cases surging past 1 million by year end.”

More consumers filed for Chapter 7 protection (liquidation and discharge of unsecured debt such as credit card debt) as opposed to Chapter 13 protection, which may enable the filer to keep his or her home.

Business bankruptcy filings increased by 42 percent during the same time period.

If you’re weighing bankruptcy as an option you may first want to contact a credit counselor: www.nfcc.org

Aug. 28, 2008