New Jersey readers might already know that wage garnishments are a tool often used by creditors to collect debts for which they have obtained a court judgment. A certain percentage of money is removed from each paycheck to cover the the debt. Of course, this process assumes that the person whose wages are being garnished actually owes the debt. When this happens, it may be possible to stop wage garnishments attached to your paycheck by paying the debt, making alternate arrangements with the creditor or filing for bankruptcy.
However, there are a growing number of people whose wages are being garnished for debts they never owed. For instance, a woman received a call telling her that she owed $2,600 plus interest, which made the total amount owed approximately $8,000, on a nine-year-old court judgment obtained by a collection service. She knew nothing about the debt and someone she did not know at a prior address accepted court papers.
Regardless, the company began garnishing her wages. Once a judgment is obtained, the company can wait to collect the debt until it is ready. Often, the company will wait for a minimum of two years to begin attempting to collect on the judgment. This is because it may then be too late for the unsuspecting party to challenge it. California, where this woman is from, passed a new law that allows consumers to fight these types of judgments.
Many people here in New Jersey and across the country, however, may not have the same recourse. By the time the individual attempts to fight the garnishment, the financial damage may already be done. In order to stop wage garnishments attached to your paycheck, it may be necessary to file for bankruptcy. In addition to wiping out this particular debt, other debts may also be discharged, which would give an individual the ability to start over financially.
Source: abc7news.com, “7 On Your Side: People’s paychecks garnished to pay off debts that aren’t theirs“, Michael Finney, Nov. 18, 2015