Thursday, March 14, 2013

Help! I’m being garnished!

Many people get their bank accounts and paychecks garnished without knowing why. Whether there is a legitimate reason or not, you need to know why you are being garnished and what your rights are.

How can this happen?

Unless you are being garnished for unpaid taxes, child support, or student loans, there must be a judgment against you before you are garnished. If you didn't know there is a judgment against you, chances are you probably were not served properly. If service wasn't proper, you can get the judgment vacated. Call a consumer lawyer in your area to help you get your judgment vacated.

What can they take?

A judgment creditor can garnish your wages and bank accounts. However, unless your garnishment is for unpaid taxes, child support, or student loans, certain Federal benefits are exempt from garnishment:

  • Social Security Benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits
  • Veterans’ Benefits
  • Civil Service and Federal Retirement and Disability Benefits
  • Military Annuities and Survivors’ Benefits
  • Student Assistance
  • Railroad Retirement Benefits
  • Merchant Seamen Wages
  • Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Death and Disability Benefits
  • Foreign Service Retirement and Disability Benefits
  • Compensation for Injury, Death, or Detention of Employees of U.S. Contractors Outside the U.S.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Disaster Assistance.

If the creditor has garnished exempt funds, you can demand a return of those funds and any garnishment fees.

How much can they take?

Unless your garnishment is for unpaid taxes, child support, or student loans, creditors can only take a limited portion of your wages. Depending on how often you are paid, different limits apply. 

However, creditors cannot take more than 25% of your net income.

If you feel that you have been improperly garnished, call a consumer lawyer in your area to help you get your money back.

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