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Families & Community

Michigan gets an "F" in consumer debt protection

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National Consumer Law Center
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Michigan law allows up to 25 percent of a workers paycheck to be garnished for credit card debt. It's one of 20 states that do not protect wages above the federal minimum of 75 percent of take-home pay once a person has judgment for non-payment of debt against them.

Those are just a few of the findings of an investigative report out today by NPR and ProPublica.  Wage garnishment is a particular problem for consumers in the Midwest, according to the report. One in 16 workers in the Midwest had their wages garnished last year. In many of those cases, interest continues to accrue on those debts.

That's just one of the policies that earned Michigan an "F" grade from the National Consumer Law Center. The only other states to get that grade Kentucky, Alabama, and Deleware.

The 2013 report is a deep dive into how debt and state policies combine to push families into poverty. It's a cycle that sometimes ends, as Rina Miller's reported a few years ago, in a modern version of debtor's prison.

In each of these instances there's a question as to how much personal responsibility the person in debt could have taken over their choices, or their spending. The larger policy issues however, could affect the overall economic health of individuals and of the state.

If you have experience with serious debt share your insight with us. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article left Deleware off the list of states rated lowest in consumer protection from creditors.