Surviving the Crisis: Living in debt

Congress passed the CARD act in February in the hopes of stopping credit card companies from taking advantage of consumers, but many people say their credit card problems haven't gone away.

The average American family has about $16,000 in credit card debt, and 11 percent of them cannot pay what they owe.

News 12's Lisa Reyes sat down with Deirdra, a 25-year-old single mother from Yonkers. Deirdra is trying to finish school and care for her 6-year-old daughter all while trying to pay off a $6,000 credit card debt and a $5,000 student loan.

Overwhelmed by her debt, Deirdra empowered herself against her financial woes by consolidating seven credit cards, making one big monthly payment and closely monitoring her spending.

Deirdra also turned to the Hawthorne-based Community Capital Resources, where credit counselors such as Doug Young offer finance education classes.

"The last thing a credit card company wants to hear is you're talking bankruptcy, because in bankruptcy they lose everything," Young says.

However, Federal Bankruptcy Court Trustee Mark Tulis says since the beginning of the recession, the number of his cases almost doubled per month in the Southern District, which encompasses Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam counties.

Tulis says the main causes for bankruptcy include unemployment, high mortgage payments, unexpected medical expenses and divorce.

Visit the Your Money: Surviving the Crisis Facebook page, where you can submit your questions and concerns directly to News 12, by clicking here.

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