Bankruptcy Filings Keep Rapid Pace

Article excerpt

Bankruptcy filings for May showed only a small decrease in the otherwise worrisome totals thus far this year.

The number of filings for May in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Oklahoma equaled 1,134, down 4 percent from April's total of 1,181. But the figures for last month compared with the same period in 1996 indicate a 21 percent increase.

Total filings for the year are 5,316 compared to 4,115 for the first five months of 1996 -- a 29 percent increase. Chapter 7 filings -- straight line personal bankruptcy -- for May of this year experienced the biggest jump, from 719 in 1996 to 890, a 24 percent increase. Chapter 13 petitions -- the wage earners plan -- rose 16 percent in May compared to last year, from 206 to 239. The number of Chapter 11 filings -- business reorganization -- last month was five, as opposed to a total of eight in 1996. Chapter 12s - - farmers bankruptcy -- dropped to zero from four in May 1996. Attorneys and bankruptcy court officials have repeatedly pointed to credit card debt as the primary cause of personal bankruptcy, which accounts for the bulk of filings. Not so, according to a Visa International study. The San Francisco-based association blames lax personal bankruptcy laws, which it said makes it too easy to declare bankruptcy. "Some consumers need all the benefits of the bankruptcy system," said Kenneth Crone, Visa International senior vice president. …