Debt collectors, including debt buyers, have weaponized the courts and frequently sue the wrong consumer for the wrong amount. Armed with a judgment, they use wage garnishment orders and bank account levies to seize money from families who are the least able to afford it. Research shows that nearly half of all Americans do not have enough savings to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses, yet that is what people need to ensure that they can provide for their families.

CRL is calling on the federal government to protect $12,000 in people’s bank accounts from being levied, per adult, and associated $1,000 in wages per week to help families develop savings that could cover three months of basic expenses. Allowing families to save and keep these amounts will help them avoid eviction and afford essential expenses like medicine and food. It is critical that families are able to provide for themselves at a minimum, basic level, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic where many have fallen deeper into poverty.

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Updated March 2022 from the original February 2021 paper