Bankruptcy reform one year later

US Bankruptcy Court

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: One year ago today a new law made it harder for Americans to wipe out their debt in bankruptcy. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler gives us an update.


JEFF TYLER: In the last year, the number of people filing for bankruptcy has plummeted.

Ike Shulman with the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys says lots of folks don't realize it's still an option.

IKE SHULMAN: The cab driver, when I told him I was a bankruptcy attorney, he said, 'Oh. You can't file anymore, right.'

Wrong. You can still file for bankruptcy, you just need to jump through more hoops.

For example, consumers must now get credit counseling prior throwing in the financial towel, but they're not required to pay for it if they can't afford it. As a result, non-profit counseling agencies often pick up the tab.

William Binzel with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling says many agencies he represents have gone from the black to the red.

WILLIAM BINZEL: In the year since bankruptcy reform has been enacted, we project that shortfall to be around $7 million.

Many expect bankruptcies will start to rise next year as consumers get more familiar with the law and homeowners struggle to pay adjustable-rate mortgages.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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