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Credit card debt is on the rise

Credit cards are being utilized by consumers in Massachusetts and other states now more than ever. According to a report from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, credit card accounts and the average amount of credit card debt among consumers have increased over the last two years. The number of credit cards paid late or not at all has also increased.

By the middle of 2017, credit card companies had extended over $4 trillion in credit to U.S. consumers. This also represents an increase but is lower than the $4.4 trillion extended in 2008.

Over the last two years, credit card debt has increased by about nine percent. For consumers with poor credit history, average debt has increased by 26 percent. This may be a troubling economic sign because consumers with poor credit must pay a higher interest rate to borrow the same amount.

For all consumers, the average credit card debt load is about $15,654. According to creditcards.com, the average interest rate is about 16.21 percent, which represents the highest rate since the website has been tracking interest rates since the middle of 2007.

When consumers find that they cannot pay their debts, filing for bankruptcy may be an option that can enable them to get a financial fresh start. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows a debtor to keep much of their property while discharging their unsecured debt such as unpaid credit card bills and medical debt. Not all debts are eligible for discharge in bankruptcy--child support, student loans and tax debt are usually not eligible to be discharged.

A person considering filing for bankruptcy may wish to consult an attorney about their options. Debtors who are married can file bankruptcy either jointly or individually. Debtors may also file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy which requires the debtor to pay back some of their debt over several years according to a Chapter 13 plan if their income does not allow them to qualify to file under Chapter 7 or if they want to keep property that is not exempt under Chapter 7.

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