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Massachusetts Cuts Back on Car Seizures
Three Massachusetts counties have backed off on car seizure practices following bad publicity.

Constable badgesFollowing a series of Boston Globe investigative reports into their practices, three Massachusetts counties backed off of their car seizure practices. In Norfolk County, consumers will no longer have their cars seized while recovering from an expensive operation, a change that has cut seizures in half.

"We will no longer seize cars over medical bills, no matter what the amount," Sheriff Michael G. Bellotti told the Globe.

Worcester County confiscations dropped by 75 percent after two notorious debt collectors closed their offices. In Plymouth County, the Sheriff's Department now contacts debtors before attempting to confiscate a vehicle.

"The primary concern was that a lot of these folks had absolutely no idea that their vehicles were being taken," spokesman John Birtwell told the Globe.

Lawmakers are also considering increasing the amount of vehicle value that is exempt from seizure -- currently $700 -- to a more realistic $2600. In the event a car is sold at auction, this is the amount of money that would be returned to the debtor for transportation expenses.

Source: Seizing of debtors cars is curtailed (Boston Globe (MA), 12/18/2006)

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