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The fact that times have been hard financially across Florida and the rest of the country the past few years is not new news, but a recent study by YouGov shows just how commonplace bankruptcy filings are becoming in the United States. According to the study, 23 percent of households have thought about filing for bankruptcy, and 18 percent have actually gone through with it.

While bankruptcy often carries a certain social stigma, only 26 percent of those surveyed believe that filing for bankruptcy is “shameful.” Over half of respondents said that the fact that bankruptcy can provide someone with a fresh financial start is important.

The study also showed that Americans are concerned about the effects a bankruptcy filing can have on credit reports and the willingness of a lender to work with the person post-bankruptcy. It appears, however, that most Americans are not fully informed on how bankruptcy works and what it can and cannot take care of, and only 18 percent of responders knew that a bankruptcy can only be filed once every eight years.

While it’s good news that fewer households are worried about being looked down upon by those in their personal social circles if they file for bankruptcy, the fact that so many Americans do not understand how a bankruptcy works is unfortunate. Although bankruptcy can provide a way out of overwhelming debt and possibly stop a foreclosure, it is also important that those filing thoroughly understand the process and exactly what types of debt a bankruptcy filing can discharge. Those considering filing for bankruptcy can talk to a bankruptcy law specialist to better understand the process.

Source: Main Street, “One-Quarter of Americans have Considered Filing for Bankruptcy” Hal M. Bundrick, Feb. 26, 2014