Although the economy has been improving and employment numbers are up, thousands of people in the Chicago area and across the state continue to struggle with massive personal debt. If your debts are bigger than your ability to pay them, discuss your situation as quickly as possible with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer. Back in the 1990s, when the number of personal bankruptcies skyrocketed, Congress responded by passing the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act, a statute designed to reduce the numbers of those abusing the bankruptcy system. Has the law achieved its goal?

Ten years after the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act became law, the number of bankruptcy filings in the U.S. has declined significantly, from almost 1.7 million in 2005 to 920,000 in 2014. That decline happened despite the recession of 2007-2008. The law established a “means test” so that bankruptcy filers with higher incomes repay rather than discharge most of their debts. Mandatory credit counseling prior to bankruptcy is another requirement established by the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act. In the decade since the act became law, the number of personal bankruptcies has declined dramatically. The single negative impact of the Bankruptcy Abuse and Consumer Protection Act is that while bankruptcies have declined, bankruptcy fraud has increased. In 2014, over 2,000 bankruptcy cases were referred for criminal prosecution.

For those with no other realistic legal option, bankruptcy is a responsible way to obtain a financial “clean slate” and a fresh financial start. However, bankruptcy is not the best solution for everyone facing a debt crisis. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer can review your personal financial condition and suggest the course of action that’s best for you and your family in your unique situation. If you’re struggling with debt in the Chicago area, make the call right away and schedule a personal consultation with an experienced Chicago bankruptcy lawyer.