Study: Del. gets failing grade protecting people from debt collectors

By Amy Cherry/Peter MacArthur 3:17pm, October 18, 2013 - Updated 4:27pm, October 18, 2013
A new study gives the First State a failing grade when it comes to protecting Delawareans from debt collectors.

"It's a state that got the grade "F" for the way that it protects families that are trying to recover from the great, great recession," explains Robert Hobbs, the study's author, who serves as Deputy Director of the National Consumer Law Center.

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Hobbs tells WDEL that Delaware allows debt collectors to seize nearly everything a person owns, potentially pushing a Delawareans closer to poverty.

"People in Delaware as they get back on their feet will be at risk of being knocked back down and not being able to get the job that would allow them and keep the job that would allow them to pay their new and their old debt," says Hobbs.

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He says there's little protection for wages in Delaware, but not much else. He also points to antiquities in the law, where things like sewing machines and $75 in tools are protected, but nothing else unless a debtor files for bankruptcy.

He recommends an overhaul of the law.

"Protect the living wage, the median price home in the state, all the household goods, those aren't worth anything except to harass, a $15,000 car, and protect the money in the bank account so that the bills can be paid," Hobbs says.

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Massachusetts and Iowa got the highest grade in the study, a B+.

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