Alaska Debt Collection Laws

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Today, February 5, 2013, The National List of Attorneys published the white paper on debt collection law in Alaska written by attorney Richard L. Crabtree, and his law firm Routh Crabtree.

Richard L. Crabtree is the president of the Anchorage, Alaska, law firm Routh Crabtree. He has been a member of The National List of Attorneys for 16 years.  He received his B.A. in American Studies from Reed College in 1972 and his J.D. from Lewis & Clark in 1975. He is a member and past president of both the Anchorage Bar Association and the Alaska Creditors Bar Association. He is also a member of the Alaska Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He is admitted to practice before all Alaska state courts, the U.S. District Court for the State of Alaska, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.

When we asked Richard to tell us something interesting or unusual that debt collection work has taught him, he said, “I do a fair amount of collection work in the ‘off-the-road-system’ or the rural parts of the state, also known as ‘the Bush.’ When a native woman from one of the more remote villages told me that I was famous in her neck of the woods, and she asked if I knew what they called me out there, with some trepidation, I asked what that might be. ‘The Bush Cop,’ she said. Frankly, I’m kind of proud of that. Related to that, something I’ve learned from collection practice is that it pays to treat people with kindness and respect. As my grandmother used to say, ‘You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’”

There is one unique collection remedy in the state of Alaska: nearly every Alaska resident is entitled to collect an annual dividend from the trust fund known as the Alaska Permanent Fund. Richard said that one thing creditors need to know about debt collection in Alaska is that “the Alaska Permanent Fund dividends are a ready source of recovery.”   Eighty percent of each year’s dividend is subject to garnishment. The 2012 dividend came to $878, and the portion subject to levy amounted to $702.40. Permanent Fund Dividends have been as high as $3269 (2008) and as low as $331.29 (1984); they have averaged $1161 over the 31 year life of the dividend program.

Richard Crabtree

Richard Crabtree

Richard has been working in the debt collection industry for nearly 40 years. Ninety percent of his law practice is dedicated to debt collection. The firm has received several top-liquidation rate awards. Richard adds, “One highly satisfied client ‘bonused’ me with an oil portrait, which I submitted to National List as my ‘photo.’” He says that what he enjoys most about his job is “the interaction with folks from all walks of life.”

Richard lives in “an exurb” of Anchorage. When he’s not working, he enjoys fishing, hiking, cooking, reading and music.

Routh Crabtree, A Professional Corporation, was formed in the 1980s when its principals joined together to form a practice concentrating its efforts on the representation of creditors’ rights. It has since grown to be the largest creditors’ rights firm in Alaska, and represents numerous banks, credit unions, credit card companies, third-party debt buyers, and select commercial creditors. The firm is a member of the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys, and represents Alaska on NARCA’s State Law Committee.

In addition to their collection work, Routh Crabtree supports Bread for the World, Alaska Food Bank, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Eagle River Nature Center Alaska Avalanche Warning Center, ALS Society and numerous UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) projects.

The NL thanks Richard for submitting this paper and for telling us some very interesting things about himself and his practice of debt collection in Alaska. You can access the paper at

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