NEW YORK - Credit card companies continued to take hits in May as the number of charged-off accounts edged higher for the fourth straight month, according to Moody's Investors Service.

Moody's credit card index, which tracks $335 billion of receivables, measured chargeoffs at 6.62%, up from 6.02% in May 2000.

Delinquencies on card accounts (payments more than 30 days late) increased for the sixth straight month. Moody's reported that 4.96% in the sample studied became delinquent, compared to 4.32% one year ago.

Analysts attributed the increases to recent spikes in personal bankruptcy filings, which they say may have accounted for as much as half of the reported chargeoff volume.

"Changes in bankruptcy filings are the biggest single factor affecting the variability in the chargeoff rate," said Moody's analyst Christophe Germain in a release.

First-quarter bankruptcy filings were the second highest quarterly posting ever, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Personal bankruptcy filings totaled 356,836, up 17.8% from a year earlier.

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