Financial analysts in California and around the country have been voicing concerns about a looming consumer debt crisis for several years, and their arguments are growing more strident as American households sink deeper and deeper into debt. The financial information website WalletHub keeps track of revolving debt in the United States, and its report for the third quarter of 2018 reveals that American households now owe an average of $8,284 to credit card companies.

That figure represents a 2 percent increase in the average revolving debt balance in just one year, and WalletHub experts believe that the current level of indebtedness is just $177 per household away from becoming unsustainable. Rising interest rates are making matters even more difficult for individuals and families who are struggling to cope financially. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates four times in 2018, and more hikes can be expected in 2019.

These factors point to a financial reckoning according to a growing number of industry insiders and observers. Revolving debt balances, which stood at just $2,000 per household in 1988, are nearing levels last seen in the months leading up to the financial crisis and are expected to surpass them before the end of 2019.

The credit card debt trap can be especially easy to fall into after a layoff, illness or other unexpected event, and it can be extremely difficult to escape from. Attorneys could explain to those struggling with unmanageable financial situations how the nation’s bankruptcy laws were drafted to provide individuals with a second chance, and they could also put to rest the many misunderstandings and myths surrounding this form of debt relief. They may also point out that filing results in at least a temporary stay from creditor contact and harassment.