Have you received a summons or a judgment from a creditor of yours?
In this article we are going to discuss what to do if you receive a judgment, have creditors garnishing your bank accounts or paychecks. We will also go over what type of money is exempt from judgments and we’ll give you some tips to know what types of harassment is illegal when it comes to your creditors and their interactions with you.
What you’ll walk away with: If your piggy bank is broke, don’t worry, it can be fixed. You’ll just need to know what band-aid will help it heal.
A legal sidebar…
Although this is to be an informative article to help educate you on what to do if you have a creditor that is relentless to get their money, we must caution you on the information we are going to provide. Creditors do have a right to try to collect debts pursuant to what is permitted under your own states law. It should be noted however, creditors may not collect against certain property. The best advice for is to seek the help of an attorney experienced in creditors’ right law, bankruptcy, and debt relief.
The Wesbrooks Law Firm bankruptcy & debt negotiation attorneys are proud to have been working with their clients in both Arizona and Texas since 1991 to achieve positive outcomes in bankruptcy and debt relief. If you feel that you are being taken advantage of or have overwhelming debts that are becoming too difficult to pay for, are currently receiving garnishments or have judgments against you, please call us immediately at (602) 262-4357 for a FREE consultation today. Every new day is another chance to change your life and every day we help our clients achieve such change.
Why is much better to not wait for a judgment against you?
We have all seen our bills come through our emails or through the US Postal Service. Sometimes we see mail come in and we automatically know what is hidden behind that white envelope window. If you are already expecting a bill to come in and you can pay it, than you should obviously pay it in the allotted time that the company billing you has set forth.
When we decide that we cannot afford to pay this bill or that bill is when the real trouble for you and your household may start. The rights of the creditor depend on the type of debt, and creditor. If you have a car loan and you have not been making your payments, the lender can repossess the car. If you have a home loan and you have not been making your payments, the lender may foreclose the mortgage on your home. If you have been missing your credit card payments, your credit card company may call you several times a day, leave questionable voice mails and send you threatening mail whether it’s via email or snail mail. After a while, these means of communications can impact your job and your home life.
With all of that being said, there are things that you can do to help protect yourself against your creditors and that is by researching and educating yourself on the rules and more importantly the laws. The first place that we would advise anyone to begin the learning process is to go directly to the source of the law, which can be found online at the Federal Trade Commission. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is actually the perfect resource to learn the laws that each creditor should follow when contacting you in anyway.
We’ve also created our own “skimmed down” version of the FDCPA Laws on our own website as a simplified article of the laws of consumers. It clearly lays out what is legal and what is not legal when it comes to your creditors communicating with you.
Another great resource for strategies in defending yourself against aggressive creditors is to crack open or download Managing Attorney Mark Wesbrooks top selling book on debt relief. His book is called “The Debt Relief Playbook – How to defeat creditors and win the collection war”. It can be found on Amazon and other fine online retailers. Click here for more information about The Debt Relief Playbook.
What are some typical ways that creditors can do to bully you into paying them back?
- Call you every day
- Send you pieces of threatening mail
- Send you email
- Call your family members
- Garnish your paycheck
- Garnish your bank accounts
- Send a process server with a summons to court while you are at work, at school, or even enjoying a night out on the town.
Debt collectors may be held accountable under the FDCPA, and in fact may owe you $1,000.00 for such violation. You may want to keep all of your records of each communication. An idea may be to record the conversation and file each communication in a location that you can refer back to at a later date.
What happens when your paycheck or bank account starts to be garnished?
Even if paying your bills is becoming harder and harder, when you’re missing money from your paycheck or bank account, this can start an ongoing downhill problem that you may fell will never be able to be fixed. Although it can be tough, this is probably a great time to start to find an attorney who can help you. A good bankruptcy attorney will work with you to help fight your creditors and stop these garnishments.
By law, most creditors can’t just garnish your paycheck or bank account until they have a judgment against you. When you receive a summons it means that you are being sued. The issue becomes more important if you do not respond to the suit. If you do not respond to the suit within the time they have given you, you will be in default. Once you are in default that is when the creditor can start collecting the money that you may owe them through a judgment. Your employer will be contacted and will be provided a court order for them to start the process of garnishing your paycheck.
There are also instances where a creditor may not even need a judgment to start garnishing your bank accounts or paychecks. If you owe child support, back taxes, or student loans your creditors may not even need a judgment to collect those debts.
Can I protest or stop these garnishments?
Yes, actually you can. For this step, you may want to speak to an attorney. What happens is that you can protest a wage or bank garnishment through the court by filing the necessary paperwork. At the time of your court date, you must present proof that you need more money out of your paycheck to pay your other bills.
The other way is to prove that you qualify for an exemption. At which time the judge can either leave your garnishment in place or terminate the garnishments all together.
Finally, bankruptcy will completely eliminate the garnishment. Actually bankruptcy can:
- Save your home by protecting your equity up to a certain dollar amount
- Stop a foreclosure
- Stop those wage garnishments
- Give you three to five years to pay back certain debts
- Wipe out debt
- Help you rebuild your credit
- Help lower some vehicle payments
- Discharge taxes or give you time to work out a fair and affordable payment
- Structure a payment to pay child support
- Stop the creditors from harassing you
How much can a creditor garnish from my paycheck or bank account?
In Arizona, the nonexempt disposable earnings your creditor can take are the lessor of 25% of your non-exempt weekly earnings or the amount of your non-exempt weekly earnings that exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage. Disposable earnings are the left over earnings made after your employer has made the appropriate deductions required by the law.
Is there money or income that is exempt from the judgment against me?
Yes, actually there is. Ordinary creditors cannot garnish your social security, disability, retirement, alimony or child support. However, even with the above statement there are exceptions to this rule too such as if you owe federal taxes, or have student loans that are delinquent or past due.
Are you being harassed, but have no recollection of the bill that is said to be owed?
If you are unsure of a bill that a creditor says that you owe, than it’s always best to be swift and ask for proof of claim as soon as you get any type of communication from the creditor. The last thing that you want to do is for a creditor to continually pursue you even if the claim against you is not a valid one. The best way to do this is to track all of your communications with the creditor by sending priority mail and communicating via the mail system.
Although we wish that we could help answer all of your questions in one article, it is virtually impossible to do so. Each person has a specific need of why they seek out information such as judgments against them. We tend to keep the information we do provide vague as we maintain that no attorney advice is to be given online without knowing the client or potential clients specific scenario.
We always invite our clients or potential clients to call and ask us. We have knowledgeable staff that do a great job answering these types of basic questions, however most of the time (short of basic information) it is always recommended and mandatory to seek legal your advice from a qualified board certified attorney. Our firm offers FREE consultations to speak to a board certified attorney who specializes in creditors’ rights to either come to our office or chat over the telephone. Feel free to call us at (602) 262-4357 or fill out our online form today.
For more bankruptcy and debt relief information view more articles like this one!