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Commercial bankruptcies soar as personal filings fall

South Carolina residents may have been part of bankruptcy filings that soared in 2009 as individuals and businesses around the country began to feel the full impact of the financial crisis. Filings have been going down in recent years, but analysts are now saying that this decline is showing signs of leveling off. The American Bankruptcy Institute analyzes Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings using information provided by Epiq Systems Inc., and data for the first quarter of 2016 shows that commercial bankruptcies were up by nearly 25 percent compared to the same period in 2015.

According to an ABI news release, 9,208 businesses filed for bankruptcy between January and March 2016. There were 7,438 commercial filings during the first quarter of 2015. Experts say that this surge reflects instability in the energy and retail sectors. The data also reveals a sharp increase in the number of individuals filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

However, personal bankruptcy filings, which have declined for 22 consecutive quarters, continue to fall. The 186,357 personal bankruptcies filed during the first quarter of 2016 represent a 6 percent fall from the 198,413 first quarter fillings in 2015, but bankruptcies surged from 64,686 in February to 78,322 in March. While South Carolina was not one of the states with the highest number of bankruptcy filings during this period, neighboring Georgia was one of the top three.

Consumers who are struggling to make ends meet often fail to pursue the debt relief options available to them due to misconceptions and myths. Attorneys may clear up these misunderstandings and explain the advantages and drawbacks of options such as credit counseling, debt settlement and debt consolidation as well as the merits of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings.

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