A common tactic used by aggressive debt collectors is the threat of wage garnishment. If you’re already struggling financially, nothing is scarier than the prospect of having money taken out of your paycheck without permission. Collectors try to make it sound like this will happen on your very next payday if you don’t send a check immediately. This is, quite simply, false. The creditor first has to sue you, obtain a judgment, and then file for a garnishment action. If you’re willing to work with your creditors, wage garnishment can normally be avoided.
Many debt collectors will threaten a debtor with a wage garnishment action for non payment of a debt. In other words, they are telling you that they will garnish your wages from your pay check. Can they actually follow through on that threat? Yes they can, but not until they first summons you to court, sue you, win, and have a judge decide to garnish your wages as the method of repayment.
Keep in mind, most threats from debt collectors to garnish your wages from your pay check are just scare tactics. Many debt collectors operate unethically and violate federal and state consumer protection laws on a routine basis. Did you know a false threat to garnish wages in against the law? The federal law that governs debt collectors is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
Some states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas have laws to protect their consumers from wage garnishment. However, this does not mean that you are judgment proof. It is a possibility that a judgment can be satisfied through a bank levy (freezing your bank account) or putting a lien on your house. Since laws can change from time to time, make sure you consult with an attorney or other professional who knows the most current laws pertaining to your state.
If you are served with legal documents about a lawsuit for an unpaid debt, it's in your best interest to contact a consumer law attorney immediately. Never ignore a lawsuit; it will not help you. When you don't show up to court, the plaintiff can have a default judgment entered in their favor. This means you automatically owe whatever the creditor sued you for and the court decides how to get the money from you such as a wage garnishment.
If you receive notice from your employer about your wages being garnished, but were never served a lawsuit, you should definitely see a lawyer. Chances are, the plaintiff didn't do something right and you may have the judgment overturned.
The best defense one has against a lawsuit for an unpaid debt is the Statute Of Limitations. The SOL is the time limit that the plaintiff has in which to file a lawsuit. If the time limit has passed, then their legal right to collect on that debt is forfeited. If this has happened, ask the court to dismiss the suit. If you've been sued regarding a debt and the SOL has passed, then you may have a case to sue the plaintiff for filing a frivolous lawsuit.