Consumer Law Center of Maryland
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Will My Creditor Garnish My Wages?

FIle-Wage Garnishment

If you are having difficulty keeping up with payments on debts you owe, your creditor may have sold your debts to a collection agency. These companies will often use intimidating rhetoric to scare you into paying your debts, including threatening you with dramatic legal action. In particular, many debt collectors threaten that they will begin to garnish your wages to collect on the debt they’re owed. It is important to know that there are a number of steps debt collectors must take before they can begin to take money from your paycheck. Read on to learn more about the process of wage garnishment.

Debt collectors may tell you on the phone that your wages will be garnished if you don’t pay the debt they’re trying to collect, but they don’t mention all the intervening steps. In order for a collection agency to begin taking part of your paycheck before you receive it, they must first go to court and get a judgment against you. This means that the debt collector would first have to serve you with a lawsuit, then wait for you to respond to their claims, and if you admit that you owe the debt, wait for the court to enter a judgment against you. Only once the debt collector has a judgment entered by the court in hand can they seek wage garnishment.

If you believe that the debt that the collection agency is claiming you owe isn’t legitimate or is in some way erroneous, then you have the right to dispute the debt rather than admit to it, which you will state in your answer to the collections lawsuit. The court will schedule a hearing, at which both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence regarding the debt. The additional time needed to schedule and hold a hearing will also afford you more time to look into additional ways to handle the debt, such as attempting to negotiate a lump settlement with your creditor or explore whether bankruptcy might be the right option for you. Once a petition for bankruptcy is filed, the creditor’s lawsuit will be automatically stayed, and no wage garnishments will be permitted to continue while your petition is pending and the stay is in place.

If you are struggling to keep up with your credit card or medical debt in Maryland and are considering filing for bankruptcy, contact the knowledgeable and compassionate Germantown bankruptcy and consumer law firm Haeger Law for a consultation, at 888-463-3520.