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Sizing up the boom in people going bust

Americans filed bankruptcies in record numbers last year - 1.45 million, to be exact.

The number represents a 19 percent increase from the previous year, and is a result of growing levels of consumer debt as well as the economic downturn, say experts.

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"There's no question that people are now more comfortable with higher levels of household debt than ever before," said Sam Gerdano, director of the American Bankruptcy Insitute. "And what that means is that bankruptcy becomes a kind of safety net."