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During the week of September 20, 1998, the US Senate agreed to debate a bill (S 1301), intended to make it more difficult for people of means to use bankruptcy to walk away from debt. Those who could pay at least 20 percent of their unsecured debt would be steered by judges to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which entails some repayment. They no longer would qualify for Chapter 7, which requires little or no repayment. The bill also would provide more collection tools to lenders such as credit card companies, stores and banks. An estimated 1.35 million Americans filed for bankruptcy last year, up 25 percent from 1996 and double the 1986 level, according to participants in the debate. Discussion topics include credit card debt, bankruptcy, loans, interest rates and financial literacy.
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