ALEXANDRIA, Va. — March consumer bankruptcy filings came close to doubling those of the same time frame a year ago, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, which relies on data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center.

More specifically, U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings increased 41 percent nationwide in March from the same period a year ago.

The overall March consumer filing total of 121,413 represented nearly a 24-percent increase from the February total of 98,344. Meanwhile, chapter 13 filings constituted 25 percent of all consumer cases in March, nearly a 5-percent decrease from February.

"Given the great financial stress facing U.S. households today, the March numbers are consistent with our prediction of over 1.4 million consumer filings for 2009," said Samuel Gerdano, ABI executive director.