Collection Laws & Exemptions

Collection laws & exemptions as hands collecting bills of money
  • 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.

455 Comments
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  • 35x35
    Kasey,
    Feb, 2020

    I live in Missouri and have a joint bank account with my child's father. We have had this account for only about 6 months. He is the sole contributor to this account and the only reason to have me on it was so that I would be able to get things for our son when needed. My child's father received his tax refund by direct deposit and two days later a levy hold was put on 50% of the entire accounts balance. After contacting the bank they said it was a levy for past due child support of mine from my older children that do not live with us. We live paycheck to paycheck as is and are trying to support our infant son. My question is this legal for them to do or is there a chance we could fight it and get it back? None of the money in that account actually belonged to me or came from my employment. Any advice on this would be grateful.

    • 35x35
      Daniel,
      Mar, 2020

      Kasey, I am not a lawyer, so whatever I share with you is my opinion and not to be considered legal advice.

      Any account that has your name on it is fair game, as far as I know. Back child support is a debt that has wide authority to collect on. I don't believe that proving that the money came to your child's father will change anything.

  • 35x35
    Michelle,
    Feb, 2020

    I purchased vehicle new 1/13 1st purchase 15k 18.9% A.P.R $400 mo. Payments. I stoped making payments 8/17 credit report says closed 12/17 c/o profit/loss purchased by another lender.100% paid off. Balance 9k last payment 2/19 that’s wrong I haven’t paid since 8/17 balance has gone up and down through out years. when I asked if I could refinance because apr was preventing me from paying off. They said they don’t offer. Every other place I tried to trade or refinance said I was upside down . Car never was reposed. It’s Registered and insured to address. Can collection co. Come to repo car? If I disputed because payment info is wrong would it wake it up and start the statute of limitations over? Also there not on my dmv paperwork it still shows og lender as l/o

    • 35x35
      Daniel,
      Mar, 2020

      Michelle, I am not a lawyer so anything I share with you is not to be considered legal advice.

      You present a complicated set of facts. Submitting a request to validate the debt does not restart the SOL.

      If the new company legally purchased the debt from the orignial lender, then they could repo the car, provided the terms of the original contract allow that as a remedy for non-payment. Their ability to do so is not hindered by the DMV paperwork showing the original lender.

      Do you know the SOL on debt for a written contract in your state? Even if the SOL could be used as an affirmative defense and protect you from paying, it would not insulate you from a repossession.

  • 35x35
    Sam,
    Feb, 2020

    I live in Illinois, I have a Chase bank account and 2 credit cards with Chase. I am going to use a debt consolidation for those 2 cards along with other debts I have. Is it advisable to close my bank account with Chase and open a new one somewhere else before I proceed with the consolidation? I’m worried Chase will take money directly from my account. Also I have a PayPal account, is that some thing they could go after too for any reason? I’m on work comp disability and receiving paper checks in mail. So I am in a hardship position with the disability (After 3 back surgeries) not able to make more than what is given. I am going to do this the “right” way and work with the debt consolidation firm to make just one monthly payment to them to handle for all accounts as I am unable to keep making payments to them all in full. As of now I’m still in good standing with all accounts, but that’s going to change next month when I let the company take over. There will also be a lawfirm involved with this debt relief company. The BBB has given this company an A plus rating as well, so it seems like the best option for me. So, I suppose my questions are at the beginning with pertinent info following.

    • 35x35
      Daniel,
      Feb, 2020

      Sam, thank you for your question. 

      My first recommendation is to ask the company you hired for their advice. They have a more full understanding of your situation, though I do appreciate the details you supplied.

      My opinion is to err on the side of caution. It is common for a bank to have a "right of offset" clause in the paperwork you signed when you opened your account. That can give authority to take money from a deposit account to cover arrears in another account you have with them, e.g, a credit card, personal loan, or auto loan. Given that risk, I would follow the idea of moving my disability direct deposit to a new institution that is not tied to any account you enroll in the debt consolidation program.

  • 35x35
    Michael,
    Feb, 2020

    I just received a call that I am being served for a car I had voluntarily reposted in 2007. I have heard nothing from them since that time. It has been over 12 years and I now live in NY and am a Disabled Veteran. I have no other source of income. How would I answer this law suit?

    • 35x35
      Daniel,
      Feb, 2020

      Michael, here is some information, with the understanding that I am not a lawyer and not giving you legal advice.

      The debt appears to be outside the staute of limitations (SOL) on debt in New York for a written contract. SOL questions are tricky as there be acts which stop the clock from running.

      If I were in your shoes, I would answer the summons and go to court and use the SOL as an affirmative defense. It is crucial you appear and assert this as the judge won't make the argument for you.

  • 35x35
    Don Santos,
    Nov, 2019

    I have owned a house in California for over 21 years. I am over 63 years old and my wife recently passed away in May 2019. I am questioning the validity of a lien placed on my house over 19 years ago. The court judgement was issued on October 13, 2001. According to the County Recorder's office a lien was placed on my house on November 13, 2001 for approximately $9587.38. Over ten years ago. The collection agency renewed the lien on my house on December 15, 2011, for $18,947.35. According to the California S.O.L., this filing date exceeded the allotted time to renew the lien. So, in effect, the lien has expired. I hope I am reading the rules correctly. AmI? Please help me

    • 35x35
      Daniel,
      Nov, 2019

      My condolences to you.

      Are you able to tell the date on which they filed for renewal from what you are reviewing or only the date the renewal took place? 

      The Judicial Branch of CA website has this page about renewing a judgment. My reading is that it specifies the date by which the renewal was filed. Check with the court clerk's office to see when the renewal request was filed.

      Another issue worth investigating is whether you were properly notified. The same page linked to above says, "The Notice of Renewal of Judgment must be personally served on the debtor or served by first-class mail. Liens created at the time of the original judgment also must be renewed."

      If you didn't receive notice, speak with a lawyer to find out if the error let's you off the hook.

      Please report back on how you resolved this. 

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