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Bust Rush

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Consumers going bust have been flooding bankruptcy courts with petitions for debt relief. During the first three months of this year, more than 350,000 personal bankruptcy filings were made, the highest quarterly total since 1994. There is no doubt that many of these filings were made in anticipation of the bankruptcy reform laws passed recently by Congress. However many of the filings were directly related to the sharply falling economy. According to data released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the total number of personal bankruptcies filed during the first quarter totaled 356,585. Last year the figure was 1,253,444 compared to 1,319,465 for 1999. Of the total number of bankruptcy filings for the 2000 calendar year, there were 859,220 chapter 7 filings. Chapter 7 bankruptcies represent 69% of all non-business bankruptcies during calendar year 2000. The next largest group of filings in 2000 was the chapter 13 filings at 383,894, which rose 0.4% from 382,214 in the 1999 calendar year. If, and when, the new bankruptcy reform laws are signed by the President, there will be a six-month window before it takes effect.

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