Nearly half of all credit card losses are now attributable to personal bankruptcies, up from a third only one year ago, according to an industry report.

The finding - contained within the American Bankers Association's annual credit card survey - demonstrates how the recent uptick in personal bankruptcies could harm the credit card industry. The trade group warned that if allowed to continue, the bankruptcy trend may result in higher credit card prices and fees."That it increased so much really surprised me," said George Fesus, executive vice president at State Street Bank and Trust Co., Boston, and incoming chairman of the American Bankers Association's bank card division. Fesus urged bankers to take a more active role in educating consumers on the use of credit and in fighting fraudulent bankruptcy filings.

According to a published report, 616,753 people filed for personal bankruptcy last year, an all-time high and a 12 percent increase over the previous year. Some bankers fear that bankruptcy will further escalate this year as an uncertain economy spurs people to abandon their debt.

For its third annual bank card report, the ABA mailed questionnaires to 1,620 banks this summer to gain information on their bank card businesses. Completed surveys were returned by 446 banks.