What Was Bankruptcy Like in the Past?

Before December 1996, my personal view of the effects of a bankruptcy filing dated from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Back then, bankruptcy was an enduring problem, affecting one for many, many years. Credit was hard to get in 1980 (even with a good job) and if you had a recent bankruptcy filing, back in 1980, credit was nigh on impossible to obtain once again.
James H MaGee Washington Bankruptcy Attorney

Also, Bankruptcy filings carried a much greater social stigma in 1980, because even in the hard times of 1980, bankruptcy filings were still relatively rare, although filings grew steadily all through the 1980s.

Times are much worse now, it would seem, and there is an increase in bankruptcy filings to match. In 1980, Washington State had a mere 6,324 personal bankruptcy filings. By 1984, the number of consumer filings for Washington State had increased to 8,609. By contrast, Washington State had 30,379 consumer filings in 2009, which is a 380% increase from 1980 to 2009.

Back in the 1980s, I knew of a few people from our church who had filed for bankruptcy in the early 1980s, and it was back then a big deal and considered horribly embarrassing. A distant relative had filed for bankruptcy in that time period, and it was for many years an impediment to obtaining new credit. Buy my how times changed from 1980 to December 1996, as you can tell from the story of Mr. and Mrs. P.

Nevertheless, I have had plenty of clients who come in for a new bankruptcy filing, having filed for bankruptcy back in the 1980s or 1990s, and many of them come in having had plenty of car loans and home loans between the old bankruptcy filing and the current proposed bankruptcy filing with my office.