Georgia Receives “F” Grade in Review of State Protections from Debt Collectors

Georgia Fails to Meet Any Consumer Protection Standard in Annual Report Grading the Strength of State Protections for Family Finances

ATLANTA, GA, December 12, 2023 – As many consumers grapple with economic uncertainty and with rising prices for basic necessities, state exemption laws can provide a fundamental safeguard for families. But a new report from the National Consumer Law Center finds that Georgia fails to meet any of the five basic standards for consumer protection.

“Georgians know debt policy in the state is failing them,” said Liz Coyle, executive director of Georgia Watch. “We commissioned the University of Georgia to administer a statewide poll on consumer protection policies. Three-quarters of Georgians called for more of their wages to be protected from garnishment, and nearly 8 in 10 said medical debt should not be subject to garnishment.”

The National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) report, No Fresh Start 2023: Will States Let Debt Collectors Push Families Into Poverty as Economic Uncertainty Looms?, grades each state on its exemption laws, which protect income and property from seizure by creditors, debt buyers, and the debt collectors they hire.

NCLC’s annual survey of exemption law in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands finds that not one jurisdiction meets five basic standards. The report details how far short Georgia falls in protecting families in each of these five areas and grades the state on each protection to determine an overall F average:

  • Preventing creditors from seizing so much of the debtor’s wages that the debtor is pushed below a living wage: F
  • Preserving the family’s home—at least a median-value home: F
  • Allowing the debtor to keep a used car of at least average value: D
  • Preserving a basic amount in a bank account so that the debtor’s funds to pay essential costs such as rent, utilities, and commuting expenses are not cleaned out: F 
  • Preventing seizure and sale of the debtor’s necessary household goods: F

“Without exemption laws, seizures by debt collectors drain away the wages and resources that families need,” said Carolyn Carter, deputy director at the National Consumer Law Center and co-author of the report. “Reform of exemption laws not only protect families from destitution but can also act as an economic stimulus tool that steers money into state and local communities.”  

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About Georgia Watch

Founded in 2002, Georgia Watch is a statewide, non-profit consumer advocacy organization working to inform and protect Georgia consumers on matters that significantly impact their quality of life, including the effects of predatory business practices, the high cost of utilities and healthcare, and restricted access to the civil justice system.

About the National Consumer Law Center

Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center has worked for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people in the United States through its expertise in policy analysis and advocacy, publications, litigation, expert witness services, and training.