Collection Laws & Exemptions

Collection laws & exemptions as hands collecting bills of money

Highlights

  • Find out your state's consumer debt protection laws and exemptions.
  • Review FDCPA rules and collection exemptions for homesteads, autos, bank accounts, and wages.
  • Find links to learn more about your state's rules.
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Collection Laws & Exemptions by State

Below find consumer protection laws and exemptions by state. See the Bills.com page to find consumer statutes of limitations laws for the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. Use this information as a starting point for your research — it is not legal advice. Consult an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.

If debt is causing you distress, go to the Bills.com to get a no-cost quote from a pre-screened debt resolution service provider.

  Collection Laws & Exemptions
  FDCPA Applies to
Original Creditors
Homestead Exemption Vehicle Exemption Bank Account Wages
State-by-state collection laws. Source: Bills.com
  $5,000 (can double) None $3,000 75%
Alaska   $70,200 $3,900 $1,820 or $2,860 $456-7161
  $150,000 $5,000 $150 75%
Arkansas   Unlimited (<1/4 acre) $1,200 $800 or $1250 75%
Yes $50,0004 $5,000 (2x) $0 75%
  $30,000 $5,000 None 75%
  $75,000 (2x if married) $1,500 $1,000 75%
Delaware   None (if both owe $) None $500 85%5
D.C. Yes Unlimited $2,575 $850 75%
Yes Unlimited $1,000 None 100%2
  $10,000 (can double) $3,500 (2x) $600 75%
Hawaii Yes $30,000 $2,575 None 80%
Idaho   $50,000 $5,000 $800 75%
  $15,000 (can double) $1,200 $2,000 85%6
  $7500 (can double) None $4,000 75%
Yes Unlimited $5,000 $100 75%3
  Unlimited $20,000 None 75%
  $5,000 $2,500 $1,000 75%
  $25,000 None None 75%
Maine   $25,000 (ask) $5,000 $400 75%
Yes None (if both owe $) $5,000 $6,000 75%
Yes $300,000 $700 $425 75%
Yes $35,300 or $52,925 if elderly or disabled $3,250 None 75%
  $200,000 $3,600 None 75%
Mississippi   $75,000 $10,000 None 75%
  $8,000 $1,000 $1,250 75%
Montana   $60,000 $2,500 None 75%
Nebraska   $12,500 $2,500 wildcard 85%
  $125,000 $4,500 None 75%
New Hampshire Yes $30,000 $4,000 $8,000 75%
  None (if both owe $) $1,000 $1,000 90%7
New Mexico Yes $30,000 (may double) $4,000 $2,000 75%
Yes Varies by county
See
$4,000 $2,5008 90%
Yes $10,000 (may double) $1,500 $500 100%
North Dakota   $80,000 $1,200 $7,500 75%
  $25,000 $3,225 $425 (2x) 75%
  Unlimited $3,000 None 75%
Yes $25,000 ($30K couple) $1,700 (2x) $400 75%
Yes None (if both owe $) None $300 100%
Rhode Island   $150,000 $12,000 None 75%
Yes $50,000 (can double) $5,000 $5,000 100%
South Dakota   Unlimited $6,000 6k-Auto 75%
  $5,000 ($7.5K cpl) $4,000 wildcard9 75%
Yes Unlimited Unlimited None 100%
  $20,000 (can double) $2,500 or $3,500 None 75%
Yes $75,000 (can double) $2,500 $1,100 75%
  $5,000 (+$500/kid 2x) $2,000 None 75%
  $40,000 $2,500 $500 75%
West Virginia Yes $25,000 (can double) $2,400 $800+ 75%
Yes $40,000 $1,200+ $1,000 75%
Wyoming   $10,000 (can double) $2,400 None 75%
Notes

1. Alaska: $716/wk (head of family) or $456/wk (non-head of family)
2. Florida: 100% (head of family only) or 75% for non-head of household
3. Iowa: 75%, but yearly total limited
4. California: $50k (single), $75k (married), $125K (65 or disabled)
5. Delaware: 85% of disposable
6. Illinois: 85% of gross
7. New Jersey: 90% of gross, unless judgment-debtor earns more that 250% of federal poverty level, then court has discretion to use federal 25% exemption.
8. New York: Account contains directly deposited exempt benefits, including Social Security, SSI, Veterans benefits, disability, pensions, child support, spousal maintenance, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, Public Assistance, Railroad Retirement benefits, and Black Lung benefits. Otherwise, $1,740 on all other accounts. See the for more information.
9. Tennessee: Up to $4,000 of any personal property, including a financial account, can be exempted. See for details.

The amounts listed in the chart’s columns are what is protected from collection, what you will be left with should a collector pursue a particular asset or your income. Pay attention to the footnotes, where listed.

FDCPA Applies refers to the , which customarily applies to collection agents/debt collectors. In the states indicated, the FDCPA applies to original creditors, too.

The Homestead Exemption shows the amount of equity in your primary residence that even a judgment-creditors cannot pursue. The exact amount you can protect depends on the exemption in your state of residence. Some states have no exemption whatsoever. Some states have unlimited exemptions, where all the equity in an expensive mansion is completely protected.

The Vehicle Exemption protects equity in one vehicle up to the amount listed for your state. If you owe money on the vehicle, subtract what you owe from what it is worth, to see if your vehicle is totally exempt or not. In some states, a vehicle that is worth more than the exempt amount can be seized and sold, with the exempt amount returned to the owner.

The Bank Account Exemption lists how much is safe from a judgment-creditor’s collection efforts. Some states offer no protections; anything in your account can be .

The Wage Exemption shows what part of your wages are protected from , and is the amount that most creditors cannot pursue.

Although we believe this information to be accurate as of the date of its posting, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. Consult with an attorney in your state for specific information regarding the laws and exemptions that apply to you in your circumstances.

4.5
/5.0
(62 Votes)

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445 Comments

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  • BK
    Jun, 2017
    Byron

    A Levy sneaked up on me for the second time in about 3 years. Nearly lost my mind looking at account balance $0.00 (California). I know the company, it's same company. I owe them $0. They've used the courts against me. Throughout my long extended military career no court days/dates as I was always out of state. Truly believe they've violated not only SCRA but so many others laws. Bad part is I'm being billed, charged, shaken downed now levied for something for events I have no action, signature, presence, discussion in. In fact I believe I was in Chicago at Boot Camp in 1995 during the billing. Hard to be in California and Chicago Navy boot camp at once. My concern is, I've never got representation to go into battle for me so it's all fun and games for the ones who have a script and system they used legally at the courts against me. Not funny any more. This can no longer happen. 20 plus years of Collection torture. Levy, two times, ENOUGH! Not sure how to handle going forward, it's under $10k, yet I don't like being hustled. It's a shame yet this is what we face no matter what. It's approaching a quarter of a CENTURY of nonsense!

    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jun, 2017
      Daniel

      The only way to assess the validity of your ability to fight this matter is to speak with an attorney. The length of time, alone, makes untying the knot that much more complicated. I recommend speaking with an attorney experienced with SCRA law. Perhaps the VA would be a resource for a referral, if an online search doesn't yield results.

      0 Votes

  • KB
    Mar, 2016
    Ken

    I had an account charged off in 2012 for 4,253. I have never heard from them in all this time. I check my credit report at least 3 times a month an it is all way the same. Til now. I lost 65 points. I found that on 2/29/16 that my debt had changed, $4,253.00 + $5,553.00 to $9806.00. Is this legal ?

    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2016
      Betsalel

      It sounds as if you are talking about an increase of about 23% per year, which might include interest, late fees and legal fees. This does seem possible. The amount of interest charged varies by the type of account and the state usury laws.

      Since I am not a lawyer, I recommend that you contact a local attorney, or perhaps your state’s attorney general consumer protection office. (Do a google search: attorney general office consumer protection division YOUR STATE).

      A couple of side points:

      1. I don’t think that you need to check your credit report so often unless you are monitoring some kind of identity theft issue.
      2. How did you find out about the new amount? Was it through your credit report or a letter from the creditor or a new debt collector? If you are being sued, then verify the debt with the debt collector and check the statute of limitations.
      0 Votes

  • ST
    Jul, 2014
    Shel
    Roseburg, Oregon
    Many years ago, my husband was declared at-fault in a car accident. Our insurance had lapsed. We moved to a different state (the accident was in Mississippi, we have lived in Oregon for the past 6 years.) Recently, we received a letter from Allstate about the $48K judgement against him. Our only income is his disability, which is already being garnished for student loans. We are on public assistance. What can the insurance company do to us since we have no way to pay this debt?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Jul, 2014
      Bill
      Collection efforts by the insurance company for this type of judgment against your husband can't touch the disability or public assistance monies. The creditor could potentially come after a bank account or certain assets in your husband's name.

      You mentioned residing in Oregon. Read the Bills.com article Oregon Collection Laws to learn more about your rights and liabilities as an Oregon resident.
      0 Votes

  • JS
    Jun, 2014
    Jodie
    Cuyahoga Falls, OH
    I'm in Ohio and receive direct deposited child support in my bank account. Can a creditor take any of it out of my account?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Jun, 2014
      Bill
      The child support money should be protected from any creditor. Issues can arise when other money is co-mingled in the account. Speak with your bank manager, to make sure that there is a note attached to your account. It may be wise to have an account that holds only the child-support money.
      0 Votes

  • LB
    May, 2014
    LU
    T/o Webster, NY
    I live in NY, my spouse has a private Sallie Mae Loan, about to go in collection. Should we let it get to collection and deal with them instead of dealing directly with Sallie Mae, whom does not seem to budge on the lowest amount that can be paid. They are asking for 230 a month and that's too much for us, we are 4 payments late. We were paying that but it was not making any effect on the amount.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      May, 2014
      Bill
      A collection agent could choose to be just as inflexible as Sallie Mae. What you face, whomever is trying to collect, is a possible lawsuit and judgment if you default on the loan. In New York, the maximum garnishment allowed on wages is 10% of your disposable income. Figure out that amount. Don't agree to any payment greater, if you are not confident that you can make it.
      0 Votes

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