Wage Garnishment

Are Creditors Threatening to Go After Your Paycheck?

If you’ve fallen seriously behind on unsecured debts such as credit card balances or medical bills, your creditors may be threatening you with wage garnishment. You are likely wondering whether these threats are real and what you can do about them.

I’m Ivan Trahan, a California attorney with more than 35 years of experience helping clients obtain debt relief through bankruptcy. For a free consultation to discuss what you can do to prevent wage garnishment or stop it once it has begun, contact me at my offices in Temecula.

Determining Whether the Threat is Genuine

Debt collection companies often threaten people with wage garnishment to try to get them to repay their debts. Sometimes, these threats are false and are used as a form of creditor harassment. Sometimes, however, the threats are true and may require a fast response.

Generally, a creditor can only garnish your wages or bank accounts after suing you and either winning in court or obtaining a default judgment after you fail to answer the lawsuit.

The major exception is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If you have unpaid tax debts, the IRS can garnish your wages or levy on your bank accounts without a court order.

Generally, a creditor who gets a judgment can order your employer to garnish up to 25 percent of your wages. Creditors can also freeze your bank accounts and garnish — in some cases — almost all of the money in them.

Taking Action to Preserve Your Wages and Accounts

If you have been threatened with wage garnishment after a lawsuit, your employer has notified you that your wages are going to be garnished, or your wages have actually been garnished already, don’t hesitate to consult a lawyer about your options.

If you file bankruptcy quickly enough using an emergency procedure called a “skeleton petition,” you may be able to prevent wage garnishment from starting or get your garnished wages back. If you wait too long, your garnished wages may be permanently lost.

To preserve your wages and bank accounts and take the first step toward a fresh start by filing bankruptcy, contact me today.