Report finds Georgia falls short in consumer protection standards

Report finds Georgia falls short in consumer protection standards

By T.A. DeFeo, The Center Square

 A new report found that Georgia fails to meet any of the five basic standards for consumer protection.

The National Consumer Law Center report found Georgia has “extremely weak protections” in four of the five categories studied and “weak protections” in the fifth. Georgia joined Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, and Utah in receiving “F” grades. Pennsylvania and Wyoming received similarly low grades of “D.”

The center explored whether states have laws to prevent creditors from seizing wages and pushing a debtor with less than a living wage, let debtors keep a used car of at least average value, keep a family’s median-value home, retain enough money so they can pay essential costs such as rent; and prevent the seizure and sale of a debtor’s necessary household goods.

“Georgians know debt policy in the state is failing them,” Liz Coyle, executive director of Georgia Watch, said in an announcement. “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 poll of 1,152 respondents found more than seven in 10 Georgians (71%) believe Georgia’s Department of Banking and Finance should regulate car title lenders, while more than three-quarters (76.7%) say Georgia law should be changed to prevent medical debt from being subject to wage garnishment or bank levy.

Rick Chahal, a licensed paralegal/legal assistant with Kahlon Law, said the report is a wake-up call and concerning to see the state fail in areas of basic consumer protection.

“This essentially means that our taxpayers, many of whom are hardworking individuals and families, are left vulnerable to aggressive debt collection practices,” he told The Center Square via email. “With our state having an ‘F’ rating, the financial stability of our residents is at risk.

Georgia “lawmakers must treat this issue with the urgency it deserves when they return to session,” Chahal added.

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