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Credit card debt rising for consumers

People in Arkansas who often found themselves reaching for their credit cards in 2014 are part of a national trend. A consumer credit card debt survey sponsored by CardHub reported a big uptick in 2014, with a 47 percent rise in credit card spending from 2013.

Across the United States, people added $57.1 billion in new credit card debts in 2014. The fourth quarter accounted for $45 billion of that spending.

A spokeswoman from CardHub said this rise indicates that Americans are "confident in the economy," but debt still poses a potential financial burden. The CardHub survey showed that the average credit card balance for households at the end of 2014 was $7,200. The company considers $8,100 to be an unsustainable level and warned that consumers were getting closer to it. Credit card charges have been rising for five years after briefly dipping in 2009 during the financial crisis as people focused on paying down balances. CardHub projects another increase for 2015 to $60 billion.

For a person in a situation in which their credit card debt has become unmanageable, bankruptcy might be a viable option, especially if credit card companies have initiated a lawsuit against the debtor. An attorney may be able to assist a person in the decision to file for bankruptcy. When that is route is chosen, an automatic stop is created against creditors that pauses their collection attempts while the court determines how the debtor's assets and debts will be discharged. During this process, the attorney could keep the person informed about their rights and possibly prevent wage garnishments or property liens.

Source: CNBC, "Americans took on $57B in credit card debt in 2014," Jacob Pramuk, March 9, 2015

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