If a person has fallen behind on their debts, they may have collection companies threatening to garnish their wages. Is the practice of garnishing wages legal? Is there any limit that the debt collector must follow?
For those who find themselves in this situation, this article will answer these questions and more below.
What to Do When Threatened with Wage Garnishment
The smartest thing to do when a debt collector mentions wage garnishment is to find a debt collection lawyer. This should be the absolute first step a person takes when they are threatened with wage garnishment. A debt collection lawyer will inform a person of their rights, make sure the wage garnishment is legal, and go over how the process works.
Is Wage Garnishment Legal?
Unfortunately, certain wage garnishment practices can be legal. An average of eleven million people has their wages garnished every year. It is important to check with a debt collection lawyer, though, as sometimes debt collectors can attempt to garnish a person’s wages illegally.
For wage garnishment to be legal, a lender or creditor must sue the person who owes them money, and a lawyer must approve and grant their judgment against the debtor. For wage garnishment to be legal, it must have gone through the court system.
Both private organizations and government entities can garnish a person’s wages to collect on unpaid debts. Because it has to go through the courts, a person will get a court summons in the mail that lets them know that a company is legally suing them for unpaid debts.
Always Respond to a Court Summons
If a person gets a summons that states that they are being sued due to unpaid debts, they need to take action. The person must respond to the lawsuit on or before the date provided on the court summons.
Ignoring the summons will mean that the judge will award a default judgment to the creditor. Not only will the person owe their unpaid debts, but they will also owe any legal fees and money spent by their creditors who were attempting to collect money for the debt.
Are There Any Limits in Place for Wage Garnishment?
Thankfully, there are limits in place that keep the creditor from taking every dollar that a person makes. Every state has a maximum percentage amount that a creditor can take from their paycheck.
Usually, the percentage comes out of the person’s disposable income and is not a percent take from the entire paycheck. A debt collection lawyer will be able to tell people the specific rules and limits for their area.
Can Wage Garnishment Be Challenged?
Can a person challenge wage garnishment? A person can, and should, challenge wage garnishment. To do this, file a “Claim of Exemption.” A debt collection lawyer will guide a person through this process and let them know which court to file the exemption with.
If a person gets a court notice that a lender is taking legal action against them, they need to respond to the summons. If a creditor is granted the right to garnish the person’s wages, wage garnishment can last ten years, twenty years, or longer.
It is best to prevent wage garnishment from the start, as once it happens, it is hard to reverse.
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