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STATEWIDE — The National Consumer Law Center‘s “No Fresh Start” is a yearly analysis of laws meant to protect those in debt in the United States, giving each state a grade on a A to F scale. Indiana received a D for its debt protection laws.
The Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute published a blog on Thursday going over the criteria that the NCLC used when assessing all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The categories include:
– Whether creditors can take so much of their individuals with debt’ wages that the debtor is below the living wage.
– Whether individuals with debt can retain an average-value used car, whether individuals with debt can retain their median-value family home.
– Whether individuals with debt can access baseline funds for essential living costs.
– Whether creditors can seize and sell debtor’s necessary goods.
Indiana has received a D grade in the report ever since it began back in 2019.
The study analyzed the legal rights of an individual with two children working full-time would be allowed to preserve. A breakdown of what that individual would be allowed to retain in Indiana can be found on the “No Fresh Start” analysis web site.
Erin Macey, the Director of the ICAPI said that it is less about the kinds of protections someone in Indiana might have and more about the value it protects. “Our wage garnishment protection is tied to the federal minimum wage. So the minimum amount that’s protected is $217.50 a week. Which would be really difficult to live on.” She goes on to mention that states like Arizona, Nevada, and multiple other states have better protections for people’s wages than Indiana. Arizona protects their residents up to $831 per week, while Texas does not allow wages to be collected upon at all.
Macey also said that there are ways which Hoosiers can work to protect themselves from debt collection. There is the new Indiana Health Fund non-profit which helps people negotiate and possibly relieve their medical debt. She also says that working with a financial advisor to budget and schedule payment plans can be a big advantage in preventing creditors from collecting on your wages and personal goods.
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