Visa U.S.A. on Monday said it expects the growth of bankruptcy filings to slow next year to 14.9%, or 1.5 million cases, from the 18.6% increase expected this year.

Bankruptcy cases ballooned 26.6% in 1996, crossing the one million mark for the first time. According to Visa, personal bankruptcies erased $30 billion in debt during 1996.

Visa senior vice president Kenneth Crone attributed the decline in the growth rate to consumer education. He urged Congress to reform the bankruptcy code.

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