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Will My Creditor Garnish My Wages?

Hand holding money and a gavel

When you’re struggling to keep up with your bills or credit card payments, you may be worried about the long-term consequences to your financial life that will follow from failing to pay. Part of this concern stems from the things that your creditors say to you over the phone or through letters. Debt collectors often dramatize their ability to ruin your life when they’re trying to collect a debt. They’ll threaten you with lawsuits, with repossession, and even with taking money directly out of your paycheck. While your creditor may have a basis to seek to have your wages garnished, there is a formal legal process that must be followed to achieve this end. Below, learn more about the process by which a creditor can garnish your wages.

When a debt collector mentions that they will garnish your wages in order to satisfy a debt you owe, they have most likely made it sound as though they could begin to take money off the top of your paychecks tomorrow, if they so wished. However, creditors must first obtain a judgment before they can seek to have your wages garnished. Obtaining a judgment requires them to file and win a lawsuit against you in court. Essentially, the creditor must file a lawsuit claiming that you owe a particular debt to them that you have failed to pay. You must be served with a copy of this lawsuit, and be provided with an opportunity to respond to the claims.

You may answer the lawsuit by admitting you owe the debt or by challenging the validity of the debt. There are other ways you may also answer, such as by challenging the method with which you were served the lawsuit, and an attorney can help you determine if these issues apply to your case. If you admit to owing the debt, the court will likely issue a judgment relatively soon thereafter, which will allow the debt collector to seek to garnish your wages in satisfaction of the judgment. However, you may have a basis to challenge the debt. This will extend time before your wages are garnished, and will allow you an opportunity to go before the judge with evidence that the debt being collected is not legitimate. An experienced New York bankruptcy attorney can walk you through the process of responding to a creditor’s lawsuit, and can help you devise the smartest possible strategy to handle overwhelming personal debt.

If you are struggling to stay on top of mounting medical, credit card, or other consumer debt, contact the effective and knowledgeable Hudson Valley bankruptcy attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP for a consultation on your case, at 845-331-4100 in Kingston, or at 845-236-4411 in Marlboro.

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