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Counselors Fear 'Credit Addiction'

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling says "there is no Happy New Year" for many people as consumer debt continued to grow another $4 billion in January to a staggering $2.16 trillion, according to numbers released yesterday by the Federal Reserve Board. The NFCC continues to voice serious concern over yet another increase in consumer debt during the first month of 2006.

The Federal Reserve's new consumer debt numbers cover levels reached through the end of January 2006, and the $2.16 trillion figure represents a 2.2% annual rate of growth.

"This astounding amount of consumer debt equates to $7,448 for every American," said NFCC president and CEO Susan C. Keating in a news release. "It is critical that consumers reconsider their spending levels and use credit responsibly to avoid serious consequences. Last year, over two million Americans filed for bankruptcy. When the new bankruptcy law went into effect on Oct. 17, 2005, the number of bankruptcies declined significantly, but those numbers are headed up again."

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