Report: Bankruptcy filings steady
Tougher law requiring debtors to seek counseling hasn't stemmed tide of new filings, newspaper says.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - A toughened bankruptcy law requiring debtors to seek credit counseling is doing to little to curb the number of consumers filing for bankruptcy, according to the Washington Post.
While the new law, which took effect late last year, requires debtors to seek counseling in hopes that it will steer them toward repayment plans instead of bankruptcy court, counseling agencies said most debtors are too far in financial trouble to qualify for a debt-management plan.
Money Management International Inc., the nation's largest credit counseling organization, told the Post that in the first 13 weeks since the law took effect Oct. 17, only 4.5 percent of the 14,907 debtors the company counseled were in a position to qualify to pay back debts over a few years. Other credit counseling agencies, likewise, said few qualified for any plan other than bankruptcy.
And credit counselors expect bankruptcies to climb steadily in the next few months as consumers are faced with rising energy costs, higher interest rates and the new federally mandated policy that raises the minimum due on credit card bills.
Advocates of the bankruptcy law said it's still too early to determine how successful the new requirements are in curbing bankruptcies, while financial industry officials said debtors will benefit from the financial education given by credit counselors.
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