The number of U.S. consumers who filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 was the highest in five years, and the figure could rise as Americans struggle with excess debt in an uncertain economy, a report issued Monday said. Roughly 1.53 million consumer bankruptcy petitions were filed in 2010, up 9 percent from 1.41 million in 2009, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, citing data from the National Bankruptcy Research Center. Filings in December totaled 118,146, up 4 percent from a year earlier and 3 percent from November's total. The full-year total is the highest since the 2.04 million recorded in 2005, when there was a rush to seek bankruptcy protection ahead of a stricter federal law taking effect in October of that year. There were 2.94 million U.S. consumer bankruptcy filings in 2009 and 2010, the most over a two calendar year period since the 3.6 million recorded in 2004 and 2005. "The (2005) law was supposed to reduce filings, but we are very close to levels we were at then," Gerdano said. "The laws of economic gravity are more powerful than the laws passed by Congress Does this mean people are just being cautious or does it mean the end/bottom of this mess still isn't in site like many are saying?