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Can They Garnish Your Wages for Credit Card Debt?

Chloe Meltzer | January 10, 2024

Legal Expert
Chloe Meltzer, MA

Chloe Meltzer is an experienced content writer specializing in legal content creation. She holds a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University, complemented by a Master’s in Marketing from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Got a credit card company or debt collector after you for an old debt? Worried they'll take your paycheck? Learn how to stand up to debt collectors who want to take your wages.

When you are unable to pay your credit cards off it can feel like the worst situation in the world. Although it's not always possible, you should avoid completely stopping your payments. If you decide to ignore your payments then you have the chance to have yourself sent to collections. This will usually end up in a lawsuit, which can then lead to money being taken directly from your bank account or garnished wages.

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How wage garnishment works

Wage garnishment is one of the last parts of the debt collection process. If you cannot pay your consumer debt, then you will most likely have been given reminders regarding your missed payments. Late fees and interest may have incurred as well. If you ignore these reminders and miss payments, you may have noticed your credit score dropping as well.

As the debt goes unpaid, you will be eventually sent to a collections agency. Every debt has a specific amount of time to be collected on, as specified in the statute of limitations. This can range anywhere between two to six years, but up to 20 years in the state of New York. If a debt collector does sue you for non-payment, then a lawsuit will begin. If you lose, then this is considered a judgment against you, and your wages can be garnished.

When your wages are being garnished, a bit of every paycheck goes directly to the debt collector. This occurs until your debt, interest, and any fees, are completely paid off. In this case, your employer will deduct the money from your paycheck and will be aware that you are paying off debts. Despite this possibly being embarrassing, the Consumer Credit Protection Act protects you from being fired by your employer for one debt. The protections disappear if your wages are being garnished for multiple debts.

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How to (and how not to) avoid wage garnishment

There are a few ways to avoid having your wages garnished. The primary way is to simply pay your minimum monthly credit card payments. Although this may not even put a dent into your debt, it can still help you from avoiding collections. In some cases, if you are unable to pay even this, you may explain this, and ask to be put into a hardship program.

Mainly you want to avoid ignoring your debt. If you ignore your debt then regardless you will be sent to collections. This will ultimately lead to wage garnishment, which can feel like a violation of your privacy because your employer will be aware. This can also lead to money being taken directly from your bank account, which can make it difficult to take care of your basic needs.

In any case, it is essential to pay for your debts such as child support, defaulted student loans, or back taxes. If you don't it will inevitably end you in a bad situation with a debt collector and having your wages garnished.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

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"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James

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