Consumer Filings Up Nearly 33 Percent in 2008

Consumer Filings Up Nearly 33 Percent in 2008

Contact: John Hartgen
              (703) 739-0800
[email protected]


January 5, 2009, Alexandria, Va. U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings increased nearly 33 percent nationwide in 2008 from the previous year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) relying on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC). The data showed that the overall consumer filing total for the 2008 calendar year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 2008) reached 1,064,927 compared to the 801,840 total consumer filings recorded during 2007.

“Consumers are under great financial stress, with no immediate end in sight,” said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. “We expect the upward spike in personal bankruptcies to continue in 2009.”

However, NBKRC’s data also showed that the 84,926 consumer filings recorded in December represented a 15 percent decrease from the 99,925 filings in November. Chapter 13 filings constituted 32 percent of all consumer cases in December, a slight decrease from November.


ABI is the largest multi-disciplinary, nonpartisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues. The ABI membership includes more than 11,700 attorneys, accountants, bankers, judges, professors, lenders, turnaround specialists and other bankruptcy professionals, providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. For additional information on ABI, visit For additional conference information, visit

NBKRC is an online research center that offers subscribers access to up-to-date research and statistics on bankruptcy filings. The database contains complete information dating back to 1995. For more information on NBKRC, please visit

*Definitions from Bankruptcy Overview: Issues, Law and Policy, by the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code is available to both individual and business debtors. Its purpose is to achieve a fair distribution to creditors of the debtor’s available non-exempt property.  Unsecured debts not reaffirmed are discharged, providing a fresh financial start.  

Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code is available for both business and consumer debtors. Its purpose is to rehabilitate a business as a going concern or reorganize an individual’s finances through a court-approved reorganization plan.

Chapter 12 of the Bankruptcy Code is designed to give special debt relief to a family farmer with regular income from farming. 

Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code is available for an individual with regular income whose debts do not exceed specific amounts; it is typically used to budget some of the debtor’s future earnings under a plan through which unsecured creditors are paid in whole or in part.