ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Consumer bankruptcies totaled 1,046,449 filings through the first nine months of 2009, making it the first time since the 2005 bankruptcy overhaul that filings have surged past the 1 million mark during the first three quarters of a year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI).

The filings for the first three quarters of 2009 (from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30) were the highest total since the 1,350,360 consumer filings reported in the first nine months of 2005. The filings are based on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center.

"Bankruptcy filings continue to climb as consumers look to shelter themselves from the effects of rising unemployment rates and housing debt," said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. "The consumer filing total through the first nine months is consistent with our expectation that consumer bankruptcies will top 1.4 million in 2009."

The September 2009 consumer filing total reached 124,790, a 41 percent increase from the 88,663 consumer filings in September 2008. The September 2009 filings also represented a 4 percent increase over the 119,874 filings in August 2009, and represent the fourth highest single month since the 2005 law change. Chapter 13 filings constituted 28 percent of all consumer cases in September, unchanged from the August rate.