Banks can freeze your accounts. Here are 3 reasons why

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Your bank account may be frozen if your bank suspects fraud or illegal activity, or if they’re complying with a court order due to unpaid debts. The government can also request an account freeze for any unpaid taxes or student loans.

 

Whatever the reason for the lock-up, finding out your bank account is frozen can be both alarming and frustrating. It often comes with no warning, and suddenly being separated from all of your funds can leave you scrambling to find another method of payment.

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Bank accounts are frozen for a number of different reasons, and each one requires a specific set of steps to get the bank to unlock the account. Read on to learn how to get to the bottom of a frozen bank account.

 

Related: How to open a free checking account

What is a Frozen Bank Account?

When a bank account is frozen, it means the bank will no longer let you perform certain transactions. You can still access your account information and monitor your account. You will still be able to make deposits, including manual or direct deposit of your paycheck.

 

However, you won’t be able to make any withdrawals from the account or transfer money from the account to a different account. Typically, any previously authorized payments or transfers will not go through either. That means that any bills you have set up on auto-pay likely won’t get paid.

Why A Bank Would Freeze Your Account

Banks have the authority to freeze, or even close, a bank account for a range of reasons. These reasons generally fall into the following three categories.

1. Suspected Fraud

A bank’s reputation relies heavily on its ability to keep money safe, so account security is typically taken very seriously.

Banks are familiar with how you tend to spend your money, so an unusually large purchase or cash withdrawal can indicate fraud and trigger an account freeze.

 

Banks are also familiar with where you typically spend your money. A transaction that occurs in a different city or, especially, a different country can be a red flag that could trigger an account freeze. It can be a good idea to inform your bank about travel plans both nationally and internationally to help prevent any account freezes during a trip.

 

If your bank flags suspicious behavior, you’re certain you weren’t responsible for, it could be due to identity theft.

2. Unpaid Debts

Missing a single bill payment isn’t generally something that would disrupt access to your bank account, but a longstanding overdue bill might. Collection agencies that purchase unpaid debts can secure court judgments for those debts, giving them the power to freeze (or “attach”) the bank accounts of debtors until they paid the money they are owed.

 

Most creditors can not have your account frozen unless they have a judgment against you. However, not all. Government agencies that collect federal and state taxes, child support, and student loans do not need to have a court judgment to attach your account.

 

Recommended: Debt buyers vs. debt collectors

 

Any of the following types of outstanding debt could be the cause of a frozen account:

  • Unpaid taxes
  • Student loans
  • Mortgages” href=”https://mediafeed.org/money/mortgages/” data-wpil-keyword-link=”linked”>Mortgages
  • Car loans
  • Personal loans
  • Civil lawsuits
  • Divorce settlements
  • Child support

3. Illegal Activity

A bank account that is used to conduct criminal activity, or shared with someone who might be, can lead to the account being frozen. Banks also work directly with law enforcement agencies and will freeze accounts of individuals that have been convicted of a crime or are under investigation.

 

Some specific activities that could lead to an account freeze include:

  • Writing Bad Checks. A single bounced check isn’t cause for alarm, but knowingly writing multiple checks from a bank account that doesn’t hold the funds to support them is illegal. If a bank observes too many bad check transactions, they may be inclined to freeze the account and alert the police.
  • Money Laundering. This is the process of generating money through illegal activity, and attempting to make it appear legal via multiple financial transactions. All banks and financial institutions are required to comply with federal anti-money laundering regulations and report any suspected activity directly to the authorities.
  • Terrorist Financing. Funding or organizing funds for terrorist groups and organizations is an illegal activity that can also result in an account freeze. Banks comply with federal laws that help prevent terrorism by freezing and reporting any accounts that exhibit suspicious activity related to terrorists.

How Long Can A Bank Account Be Frozen?

Banks don’t typically follow any set rules regarding how long an account can be frozen. The length of time generally depends on how long it takes for the account holder to notice the freeze, contact the bank, and can resolve the issue that caused the freeze.

How Does a Frozen Bank Account Affect You?

Having a frozen bank account essentially means not having access to your money, and it can be especially difficult if it is your primary bank account. Frozen funds mean not being able to make purchases with a debit card or withdrawals from an ATM. It can also mean that any auto-payments linked to that account will likely not be fulfilled, and any scheduled transfers won’t be completed.

 

Because these payments can bounce, you could also incur a non-sufficient funds charge, which may be deducted from your account. If you don’t have enough in the account to cover it, you could end up with a negative balance, putting you into an overdraft. In this case, you could end up having to pay additional bank fees and interest to cover the shortfall.

 

Recommended: How to avoid overdraft fees

 

Those with frozen accounts often must resort to using credit cards and can end up accumulating debt in order to cover their expenses while they sort out the issue with their bank. If the bank suspects you’ve been using the account illegally for any reason, it could close your account completely. It can also report your account activity to authorities.

How Do You Unfreeze a Bank Account?

It can be a good idea to contact your bank as soon as you notice a freeze on your account. When discussing the issue, it can help to have a clear account of your most recent locations and transactions, and be prepared to share any information and supplemental documentation that can help clear up the issue.

 

If you can show that there’s no reason for the freeze, the bank will likely release the suspension and grant you full access to the account again. If your account is frozen over unpaid debts, it can be a good idea to get the creditor’s contact information from your bank and then reach out to them directly. Once you have a better idea of what’s going on with your account, you may be able to work out a payment arrangement.

The Takeaway

When a bank freezes your account, it can mean there is something wrong with your account or that someone has a judgment against you to collect on an unpaid debt. The government can also request an account freeze for any unpaid taxes or student loans. Once the bank account is frozen, you cannot make withdrawals but can only put money in your account until the freeze is lifted.

 

If your account is suddenly inaccessible, it can be a good idea to contact your bank immediately to find a resolution.

 

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Foreclosure rates for all 50 states

 

The number of US properties with foreclosure filings in May was 10,821, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. That’s up more than 23% from May last year, when foreclosures remained exceedingly low due to the COVID-19 foreclosure moratorium for federally guaranteed mortgages under the CARES Act. (Note: President Joe Biden’s executive order to extend the foreclosure moratorium, as well as the mortgage payment forbearance enrollment window, ended on June 30, 2021.)

 

That said, May foreclosure filings were down roughly 8% from April, a substantive change compared to the negligible decline of 0.005% between April and March. Read on for the foreclosure rates in May 2021 — plus the five counties with the highest rates within those states.

 

As just noted, foreclosures are on the rise compared to last year but down compared to April. Read on for May foreclosure rates for all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, beginning with the state that had the lowest rate of foreclosure filings per housing units.

 

Related: Can you lose your house with a reverse mortgage?

 

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Ranking in population just above the country’s two least populated states – Vermont and Wyoming – Washington, D.C. had six foreclosures in May. With a total of 315,176 housing units, the District’s foreclosure rate was one in every 52,529 households, putting it in between Idaho (No. 47) and North Dakota (No. 46) for foreclosures.

 

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The fifth least populated state ranks in the 50th spot with just two homes going into foreclosure in May. With 388,569 total housing units, the state’s foreclosure rate was one in every 194,285 households. Only two counties in the state had foreclosures. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Pennington followed by Minnehaha.

 

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Of Vermont’s 334,999 housing units, three homes went into foreclosure in May. The second least populated state’s foreclosure rate is one in every 111,666 households. Only three counties in the state had foreclosures. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Caledonia, Rutland and Chittenden.

 

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The 38th most populated state, West Virginia has 892,182 homes, of which eight went into foreclosure in May. That means the foreclosure rate was one in every 111,523 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Boone, Monongalia, Putnam, Marion and Kanawha.

 

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North Dakota’s foreclosure rate is one in every 93,266 homes. That puts the fourth least populated state – with a total of 373,063 housing units and four homes in foreclosure — in 47th place. Only two counties in the state had foreclosures. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Ward followed by Cass.

 

csfotoimages / istockphoto

 

The 39th most populated state had 16 homes go into foreclosure in May. With 723,594 total housing units, the state’s foreclosure rate was one in every 45,225 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Lemhi, Gooding, Nez Perce, Kootenai and Canyon.

 

Sean Pavone/istockphoto

 

In Montana, the 44th most populated state, there were 12 foreclosures out of 510,180 housing units. That puts the foreclosure rate for the Treasure State at one in every 42,515 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Big Horn, Stillwater, Silver Bow, Park and Lincoln.

 

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Ranking 35th for most populated, Kansas has 1,273,297 homes. A total of 33 went into foreclosure in May, making the state’s foreclosure rate one in every 38,585 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Osborne, Ottawa, Geary, Pawnee and Greenwood.

 

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The 21st most populated state ranked 43rd for foreclosures in May. Of its 2,386,475 housing units, 62 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of one in every 38,492 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Logan, Rio Grande, Delta, Fremont and Adams.

 

Jacob Boomsma / istockphoto

 

The 27th most populated state was 42nd for foreclosures. Of its 1,768,901 homes, 55 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of one in every 32,162 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Harney, Wasco, Baker, Josephine and Jefferson.

 

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With 102 of its 2,963,486 homes going into foreclosure, Tennessee’s foreclosure rate in May was one in every 29,054 households. In the 16th most populated state, the counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Wayne, Marion, Weakley, Carter and McMinn.

 

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Ranked 13th for most populated state, Washington came in at 40th place. It has 3,106,528 housing units, of which 107 went into foreclosure, making the state’s foreclosure rate one in every 29,033 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Lewis, Skamania, Clallam, Kitsap and Whatcom.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Ranking 10th for population, Michigan took the 39th spot in May with a foreclosure rate of one in every 28,026 homes. With a total 4,596,198 housing units, the state had 164 foreclosure filings. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Jackson, Cass, Monroe, Ingham and Montcalm.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

The 41st most populated state was 38th for foreclosures. Of 634,726 homes, 23 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of one in every 27,597 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Belknap, Carroll, Cheshire, Coos and Grafton.

 

DenisTangneyJr

 

The 12th most populated state had 134 homes go into foreclosure in May. With 3,514,032 total housing units, the state’s foreclosure rate was one in every 26,224 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Craig, Covington City, Galax City, King George and King and Queen.

 

SeanPavonePhoto/ istockphoto

 

Ranked 22nd for most populated state, Minnesota came in at 36th. It has 2,438,203 housing units, of which 95 went into foreclosure in May, making the state’s foreclosure rate one in every 25,665 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Isanti, Wadena, Benton, Houston and Crow Wing.

 

Scruggelgreen

 

In Mississippi, the 33rd most populated state, there were 54 foreclosures out of 1,322,808 housing units. That put its May foreclosure rate at one in every 24,496 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Winston, Quitman, Chickasaw, Marshall and Holmes.

 

SeanPavonePhoto/istockphoto

 

Ranked 32nd for most populated state, Arkansas came in 34th place for foreclosures. It has 1,370,281 housing units, of which 57 went into foreclosure, making the state’s May foreclosure rate one in every 24,040 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Howard, Cleveland, Lonoke, Garland and Scott.

 

DepositPhotos.com

 

Of Utah’s 1,087,112 housing units, 50 homes went into foreclosure in May. The 31st most populated state’s foreclosure rate was one in every 21,742 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Juab, Millard, Sevier, Carbon and Kane.

 

AndreyKrav

 

In Arizona, the 14th most populated state, there were 142 foreclosures out of 3,003,286 housing units. That put the May foreclosure rate at one in every 21,150 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Mohave, Cochise, Yavapai, Santa Cruz and Pima.

 

Sean Pavone / iStock

 

The 40th most populated state was 31st for foreclosures. Of 542,674 homes, 26 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of one in every 20,872 households. Only three counties in the state had foreclosures (from highest to lowest): Honolulu, Hawaii and Maui.

 

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The eighth least populated state stayed steady with 25 homes going into foreclosure in May compared to 26 in April. With 468,335 total housing units, the foreclosure rate for the Ocean State was one in every 18,733 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Providence, Bristol, Washington, Kent and Newport.

 

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Pennsylvania ranks fifth for most populated and has 5,693,314 homes. A total of 306 housing units went into foreclosure in May, making the state’s foreclosure rate one in every 18,606 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Lawrence, Columbia, Cambria, Delaware and Perry.

 

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With a total 1,983,949 housing units, Kentucky saw 107 homes go into foreclosure in May. That put the foreclosure rate for the 26th most populated state at one in every 18,542 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Grayson, Lee, Laurel, Hardin and Washington.

 

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With 454 out of a total 8,322,722 housing units in foreclosure, New York had a foreclosure rate of one in every 18,332 households, putting the fourth most populated state in the 27th spot. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Putnam, Franklin, Orange, Rensselaer and Broome.

 

Eloi_Omella

 

The total number of May foreclosures was 613. With a foreclosure rate of one in every 17,842 households, this put the second most populated state with 10,937,026 housing units in the 26th spot. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Atascosa, Liberty, Carson, Hutchinson and Houston.

 

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The 15th most populated state, Massachusetts ranked in the middle at the 25th spot for May. Of its 2,897,259 housing units, 165 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of one in every 17,559 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Berkshire, Hampden, Plymouth, Nantucket and Worcester.

 

Rolf_52

 

The ninth most populated state, North Carolina has 4,627,089 homes, of which 265 went into foreclosure in May. That means its foreclosure rate was one in every 17,461 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Jones, Pitt, Onslow, Scotland and Nash.

 

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Ranked 19th for most populated state, Maryland came in at 23rd. It has 2,448,422 housing units, of which 144 went into foreclosure, which made the state’s May foreclosure rate one in every 17,003 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Charles, Baltimore City, Talbot, Prince George’s County and Queen Anne’s County.

 

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Ranked as the 20th most populated state, Wisconsin’s 161 foreclosures out of 2,694,527 total housing units put it in 22nd place in May. The state’s foreclosure rate was one in every 16,736 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Clark, Shawano, Marinette, Washburn and Richland.

 

FierceAbin

 

Alaska’s May foreclosure rate was one in every 14,984 homes. That put the third least populated state, which saw 21 homes go into foreclosure out of a total of 314,670 housing units, in 21st place. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Sitka, Matanuska-Susitna, Anchorage, Kenai Peninsula and Fairbanks North Star.

 

Chilkoot/istockphoto

 

The 18th most populated state, Missouri was 20th for foreclosures. Of its 2,790,397 homes, 193 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of one in every 14,458 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Gasconade, Randolph, Audrain, Mississippi and Madison.

 

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Ranked 25th for population, Louisiana had 145 homes out of a total 2,059,918 go into foreclosure in May. That means one in every 14,206 households went into foreclosure. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Plaquemines, Lafourche, Tangipahoa, Iberia and Vermilion.

 

Ranked the least populated, Wyoming came in at 18th for foreclosures. With 276,846 housing units and 21 homes in foreclosure, the state’s foreclosure rate was one in every 13,183 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Weston, Crook, Sweetwater, Campbell and Goshen.

 

Vasiliymeshko / WikiMedia Commons

 

The 36th most populated state was 17th for foreclosures. Of its 937,920 homes, 79 went into foreclosure, making for a foreclosure rate of one in every 11,872 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Sandoval, Lincoln, Otero, Bernalillo and Valencia.

 

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Ranked 24th for most populated, Alabama came in at 16th in May. Of its 2,255,026 homes, 193 went into foreclosure (nearly the same as April’s 194), making for a foreclosure rate of one in every 11,684 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Mobile, Bullock, Coffee, Montgomery and Sumter.

 

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Ranking 37th for population, Nebraska came in 15th with a foreclosure rate of one in every 11,317 homes. With a total 837,476 housing units, the state had 74 foreclosure filings. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Box Butte, Burt, Douglas, Dawes and Keith.

 

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The eighth most populated state, Georgia was 14th for most foreclosures. Of its 4,283,477 homes, 380 were foreclosed on. That put the state’s foreclosure rate at one in every 11,272 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Candler, Screven, Meriwether, Crawford and Butts.

 

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With 136 of its 1,516,629 homes going into foreclosure, Connecticut’s foreclosure rate in May was one in every 11,152 households. In the 29th most populated state, the counties that had the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Hartford, Windham, New Haven, Litchfield and Middlesex.

 

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With 1,397,087 homes and the same number of foreclosures for April and May (134), the 30th most populated state’s foreclosure rate stayed flat at one in every 10,426 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Wapello, Greene, Madison, Taylor and Wayne.

 

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Ranked as the ninth least populated state, Maine saw 74 foreclosures in May. With a total of 742,788 housing units, the state had a foreclosure rate of one in every 10,038 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Oxford, Washington, Penobscot, Somerset and Androscoggin.

 

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With housing units totaling 1,731,632, the 28th most populated state saw 174 homes go into foreclosure at a foreclosure rate of one in every 9,952 homes. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Latimer, Murray, Ottawa, Dewey and Pawnee.

 

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Ranked number one for most populated state, California took the ninth spot for foreclosures in May. Of its 14,175,976 housing units, 1,529 went into foreclosure, making California’s foreclosure rate one in every 9,271 households. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Lake, Trinity, Kern, Madera and Sonoma.

 

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With one in every 8,728 homes going into foreclosure, South Carolina took eighth place. Ranked 23rd for population, South Carolina has 2,286,826 housing units and saw 262 foreclosure filings in May. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Barnwell, Colleton, Dillon, Allendale and Darlington.

 

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The 17th largest state by population, Indiana ranked seventh with a foreclosure rate of one in every 8,319 homes. Of its 2,886,548 homes, 347 homes were foreclosed on. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Randolph, Clinton, Wayne, Howard and Tipton.

 

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Ranked the seventh most populated, Ohio was sixth with a foreclosure rate of one in every 7,719 homes. With a total 5,202,304 housing units in the state, the state had a total of 674 filings. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Scioto, Cuyahoga, Erie, Fulton and Lawrence.

 

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With a foreclosure rate of one in every 7,679 homes, New Jersey took the fifth spot. The 11th most populated state has 3,616,614 housing units, 471 of which went into foreclosure in May. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Salem, Cumberland, Camden, Ocean and Warren.

 

Ultima_Gaina / istockphoto

 

With the third largest population in the country, Florida’s foreclosure rate of one in every 7,207 homes put the Sunshine State into the fourth spot. Of its total 9,448,159 housing units, 1,311 went into foreclosure in May. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Gilchrist, Union, Gadsden, Levy and Hernando.

 

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The sixth most populated state, Illinois ranked number three. Of its 5,360,315 homes, 908 went into foreclosure, making the state’s foreclosure rate one in every 5,903. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Tazewell, Champaign, Mason, Lee and Pope.

 

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The sixth least populated state in the country, Delaware slid from first for foreclosures in April to second in May. With a foreclosure rate of one in every 5,854 homes and a total 433,195 housing units, Delaware saw a total 74 foreclosure filings, down from 76 in April. With only three counties in the state, the counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): New Castle, Kent and Sussex.

 

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Ranking 34th in population, Nevada took the top spot with the highest foreclosure rate of one in every 5,535 homes. With a total 1,250,893 housing units, the state had 226 foreclosure filings in May. The counties with the most foreclosures per housing unit were (from highest to lowest): Lincoln, Clark, Nye, Carson City and Lyon.

 

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Of all 50 states, California had the highest number of foreclosures (1,529) and South Dakota had the lowest (2). The South region had the largest presence among the ten states that ranked the highest for foreclosure rates.

 

These states were (from highest to lowest): Delaware, Florida, South Carolina and Oklahoma. The West region had the largest presence among the ten states that ranked the lowest for foreclosure rates.

 

These states were (from highest to lowest): Oregon, Colorado, Montana and Idaho.

 

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