Bankruptcy filings by individuals could reach 1.7 million this year, nearing the record 2 million filings in 2005. A new law went into effect in 2005 that made it more difficult and expensive to file in an effort to curtail abuse of the bankruptcy system. Now, concerns are growing that increasing numbers of consumers need protection but cannot afford to file for bankruptcy. Sallie Mae, for example, forecast a 40% default rate on subprime private student loans.

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