Bankruptcy filings by U.S. consumers soared last year, and the mortgage crisis is expected to push filings even higher this year.
During 2007, 801,840 personal bankruptcies were filed, the American Bankruptcy Institute reported Thursday.
Filings were up nearly 40 percent from 573,203 during 2006, according the report, which was based on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center.
American Bankruptcy Institute Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano noted in the announcement that the jump in filings last year "presages even higher filings this year, as the heavy consumer debt load is made worse by the home mortgage crisis."
For just December, there were 66,389 consumer filings -- actually decreasing from 71,799 filings in November, according to the institute, which says its members include more than 11,500 attorneys, accountants, bankers, judges, professors, lenders, turnaround specialists and other bankruptcy professionals.
Chapter 13 filings reportedly represented 38 percent of last month's total bankruptcy filings.