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Am I "Collection Proof"?

Produced by Mariah Jennings-Rampsi, South Coastal Counties Legal Services, with funding from American College of Bankruptcy Foundation
Reviewed December 2019

Protected income and property

Your creditors cannot take everything you own.  The law protects certain income and property from creditors. You can keep income and property that is “protected.”  Most creditors cannot take protected income or property  no matter how much you owe.

Collection proof

If you do not have any income or assets that most creditors can take from you, you are “collection proof.” If all your income and possessions are protected, you are collection proof.  If your debts are:

  • taxes or
  • child support

your income and possessions are probably not protected.  Another term you might hear is “judgment proof” or "execution proof".  

If you are collection proof you can write a letter to the debt collector that tells them it is not worth taking you to court. The letter also tells them not to harass you.  If you are collection proof use the collection proof letter.

Exempt income and assets

Exempt is another word for protected. Creditors cannot “seize” or take or “garnish” exempt income and assets. Garnishment is the word for creditors taking money out of your paycheck or your bank account. Creditors cannot garnish protected or exempt income. See – How can I stop creditors from taking my money and things?

Never ignore a lawsuit or court appearance notice just because you have no money or assets!

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