The answer is yes. If you owe creditors, collectors, or anyone else money, they can obtain a money judgment and have the funds in your bank account frozen, or they can seize them outright.
Outstanding Debt Can Result in Wage Garnishment
Whoever holds a judgment against you can go to someone else who owes you money or is holding money for you, like a bank, and intercept that money through a wage garnishment or garnishment of your bank account.
Anyone who owes you money, or holds money for you, is called the "garnishee defendant"—and through the garnishment process—can be forced to reveal to the court how much money they owe you. Then, the court can require, through an order called a Writ of Garnishment, to force the bank or your employer to pay a certain part of the money owed to you, into the court registry.
After receiving payment, the court turns the money over to whoever holds the judgment. In order for someone to garnish your wages or bank account, they need to know someone who owes you money or where you bank or where you work before they can proceed with a garnishment action. The garnishment process costs a small fee plus the costs of serving the papers. You will more than likely have to pay these fees as well.
Note: Only disposable earnings and the amount set by state law can be garnished from wages. Ask the clerk of the court for the correct amount in your state.
Usually a creditor or debt collector cannot garnish unless it first gets a judgment against you. Do not ever fail to go to court for a debt you dispute because often, if you do not show up, a judgment will be obtained and the amount will be difficult, if not impossible, to change.
Debt Collectors Are Held to Standards, and Harassment is Illegal
The actions that debt collectors are allowed (or not allowed) to take when attempting to collect from you are governed by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. We frequently encounter situations where collectors are either ignorantly or willfully violating the regulations of the FDCPA when communicating with consumers. If you’ve experienced any of the following at the hands of a debt collector, it’s possible you&rsqou;re being illegally harassed:
- Being yelled at or otherwise verbally abused, including being threatened with jail time,
- Being repeatedly contacted, even after explicitly requesting to not be contacted,
- Being contacted at places inconvenient to the debtor (you), including your place of employment AFTER requesting that contact be stopped,
- And more.
Read more about what’s allowed under the FDCPA here. If you suspect that you’re being illegally harassed by a debt collector and you’d like to make it stop, contact us today at 804-282-7900 to speak to an experienced consumer protection attorney.