Credit card debt: How to cap the geyser?

The situation is familiar to many Mississippi residents: jobs are nowhere to be found; income, if there is any, isn't making ends meet; but a credit card is in reach. People need to provide for themselves and their families, and using a credit card is sometimes the quickest way of doing that. But if you've piled on more credit card debt in the last few months, you're not alone.

According to recent reports, this past May reflected the greatest one-month increase in credit card debt nationwide in over four years. While Americans still aren't using credit cards as much as they did before the recession, the recent rise indicates that many people are likely unable to pay their bills without a credit card. That means, in the last few months, a lot of Americans have taken on more high-interest debt. And that's a problem.

In May alone, credit card debt went up by $8 billion, which is the largest single-month rise since November 2007. Overall credit card debt increased to $870 billion, which is considerably lower than the amount before the recession, which was over $1 trillion. Still, what do national statistics mean to the average consumer? Or better yet, where does this piling on of credit card debt end?

Many people throughout Mississippi may be asking themselves the same questions. But the truth is that there are options for debt relief. For instance, bankruptcy -- either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 -- lets consumers reduce or completely eliminate credit card debt. For each of these types of bankruptcy, certain criteria apply, and consumers who are saddled with credit card debt may want to look into which sort of bankruptcy is right for them. The result of the process could be a financial new beginning.

Source: The New York Times, "Consumers Take On More Debt," July 9, 2012

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