Bankruptcy Filings Up Georgia...How You Can Avoid Becoming A Statistic

May 8, 2008

Columbus, GA (WTVM)--New statistics from the American Bankruptcy Institute show Georgia ranks 2nd in the nation in consumer bankruptcy filings.   For the first quarter of the year, there were nearly 13,000 filings, up 16% from the same period last year.

Experts attribute the rise to several factors including the state's rapid growth and lender friendly laws.  But, one main contributor is foreclosures.

"A chapter 13, usually the house can be saved," says Lisa Scriver of Consumer Credit Counseling Services of West Georgia and East Alabama.

And since those numbers are on the rise, experts say the two work hand in hand.

Financial experts like Scrivner want people to know bankruptcy isn't the only solution to their problems.

"If they just have a lot of credit card debt, a lot of medical debt, just a lot of bills they can't get a handle on and it's just kind of overwhelming, what we can do is set up a debt repayment plan for them," adds Scrivner.

No new accounts can be opened during the process, and Consumer Credit Counseling works directly with the lenders on behalf of the consumer.

"They'll bring in one monthly sum to us and we'll send it to all their creditors," she says.

There's a small, monthly fee for the service.

But according to Scrivner, preventing bankruptcy is something consumers can spot early on, if they pay close attention to the warning signs.

"If you are skipping some payments each month to pay other bills, you're getting hounded by your creditors, they're calling you night and day, those are signs that need to get some professional help."