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The allure of fast cash directly deposited into your bank account within 24 hours may sound appealing but as The New York Times recently reported, consumers should be extremely cautious when it comes to the pitfalls of signing on the electronic dotted line.

The article, citing data from the 2014 four part series, Payday Lending in America, facilitated by The PEW Charitable Trusts, a research organization dedicated to taking an analytical approach to improve public policy through advancements and dedication to civic life, found that the practice of payday loan advances were extremely detrimental and dangerous to the indebted American consumer.

Borrowing from one of these lenders may be found even more damaging to one's credit and bank account than if one opted to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and petitioned for debt protection under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Furthermore, Pew's report highly recommends the adoption of firmer regulatory guidelines by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to combat the complaints generated by unsuspecting consumers.

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Posted on in Bankruptcy

Stockton and Detroit have succeeded in emerging from bankruptcy filings, but other cities could have similar issues in the near future. These medium-sized cities in California and Michigan struggled with, among other things, an underfunded pension system. There was simply not enough tax revenue to pay these obligations. One observer called Illinois the “basket case” of pension cases. For a number of decades, The Land of Lincoln has relied on generous retirement plans to attract and retain workers at otherwise lower-paying jobs. When money started to get tight a few years ago, the state began borrowing against the retirement fund in order to pay for services. That action has resulted in a $111 billion pension deficit.

One out of every five dollars in the state budget goes to the pension fund. Even worse, 80 percent of that money goes to debt servicing.

Bankruptcy and Unsecured Debt

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Several respected financial analysts predict that the U.S. will continue to experience a decline in the number of bankruptcy filings in 2015. Some data suggests an estimated 800,000 bankruptcy petitions will cross the judicial bench of district bankruptcy courts across the U.S. this year. For those individuals or families considering joining the ranks, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of bankruptcy or debt consolidation is the first step in either process. Consulting with a debt counseling professional or experienced bankruptcy attorney is highly advisable.

Before scheduling a consultation, the following brief summary of both options may prove helpful.

Debt Consolidation

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To say “every American has debt” is not so far from the truth. According to some reports, American consumers owe $11.63 trillion in debt as of Sept. 2014. That is more than half of the country's national debt.

Although debt is not inherently evil, it has reached unbearable levels for many Americans. For some, proper budgeting and prioritization of purchases can help; for others, however, bankruptcy might be worth considering.

How does one determine if bankruptcy is a smart option? The first step in answering this question is examining personal finances and debt. Then, it is wise to speak to a bankruptcy attorney to learn the intricacies of the law and how they relate to your case.

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The bankruptcy filing rate is at its lowest point in seven years for most everywhere in the country, except for the Land of Lincoln and a few other states.

November 2014 filings were down 16 percent, when compared to November 2013. Much of the decrease was due to a much lower commercial bankruptcy filing volume. These new filings were down 27 percent. One observer pointed to a combination of high filing costs, low consumer spending and low interest rates as being primarily responsible for the decline.

Illinois, however, had the fifth-highest per capita bankruptcy filing rate in the country. Its 4.72 filings per 1,000 people was eclipsed only by Tennessee (6.22), Alabama (5.34), Georgia (5.30) and Utah (4.93).

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