ALEXANDRIA, Va. — U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings totaled 770,117 nationwide during the first six months of 2010, a 14 percent increase from the year-ago period, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI).

Relying on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center (NBKRC), the organization said filings for the first half of this year represent the highest total since 2005, the year Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act to try and stem the tide of filings. Since March, the number of monthly consumer filings has been steadily decreasing.

"Years of rising consumer debt and low savings rates, combined with the housing and unemployment crises, are causing bankruptcy levels not seen since the 2005 amendments to the Bankruptcy Code," said ABI Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano. "We expect that there will be more than 1.6 million new bankruptcy filings by year end."

The overall June consumer filing total of 126,270 was 8.5 percent more than the 116,365 consumer filings recorded in June 2009. While the June total represented an increase over the previous year, it was a 7.8 percent decrease from the May 2010 total of 136,142 consumer filings. Chapter 13 filings accounted for 27 percent of all consumer cases in June, a slight increase from May.