If you are threatened with one or more wage garnishments from creditors, this could make it impossible for you to pay other important bills like utilities, rent/house payment, insurance, or vehicle loans and you may not have enough wages to buy necessities like food and gas. There are 5 ways to deal with garnishments so that you won't face disaster.
1. Make sure you still owe the debt.
There have been times when people have either forgotten they paid a debt or they feel intimidated by a creditor even if they do remember they already paid it off. You should always get receipts for payments or pay by a means that insures you have a record of these transactions. You will want to take your evidence with you to the court date or provide the creditor with copies.
2. Communicate with the creditor.
Even if the creditor has already gotten a judgment against you, in some states they may be required to send you a final demand letter before proceeding to arrange for a garnishment with your employer. You should take this opportunity to talk to them and arrange a voluntary payment that you can afford.
3. Sign up for debt counseling.
You can also try a consumer credit counseling service (CCS) in your area. They will arrange for you to meet with one of their counselors to make a reasonable plan to pay each of your creditors over time and then they will contact each of your creditors to reach an agreement on cooperating with it. If you make your payments and follow the rules, you will be legally protected from further collection activity.
4. Try these legal remedies.
In your state, it may be possible to have the court appoint a trustee that you can make payments to under a trusteeship. The trustee will then pay your creditors. In this arrangement, some states will even exempt you from a garnishment if paying it would pose a severe economic hardship to you and your family.
You can file an objection and attend the resulting meeting with the local court. Things that are grounds for objections are:
- The amount to be garnished exceeds the maximums allowed by state and federal laws.
- The creditor did not follow proper legal procedures and/or failed to notify you of an impending garnishment.
- You do not owe the amount they say you owe, or you already paid the debt.
5. Consider bankruptcy.
If all else fails, and/or you want a fresh start so that you can start saving and put some money back for retirement or other emergencies, you may want to consider bankruptcy. Otherwise you may continue to spend years limping along and always afraid of what will happen next.
Bankruptcy will help you if you have other credit problems along with having your wages garnished. Once you have filed, it will immediately stop the garnishments and give you other protections such as stopping a foreclosure or a repossession (at least for a period of time) or other collection activities. Depending on which type of bankruptcy you are eligible for, some debts can be completely discharged.
For legal advice on your options, you should contact a bankruptcy lawyer, such as Jeffrey S Arnold Attorney At Law P.C., who can advise you on what protections your state has to offer and how to deal with creditors who won't negotiate with you fairly.