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Wage Garnishments

In some cases, when a debt is not paid, your wages can be garnished.  This means that a certain percentage of your take home salary is deducted in order to repay a creditor.  This cannot be done without your knowledge.  A judgment from a court is needed, and you will receive a summons to appear in court for it.  

If you do not pay what you owe at this time, the creditor can execute the existing judgment and have your wages garnished.  If you show up in court as directed and are honest and make a reasonable offer with the judge, you may be surprised.  Judges are not usually happy taking cases that could have been resolved outside of the courtroom.  There are limits to what can actually be garnished.  

The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) states that if your earnings are $206 or more after taxes, they can garnish about 25 percent of your weekly income.  A formula is used to calculate deductions if you make $154.50 to $205.99.  If you make less than $154.50 per week, no wages can be garnished.  Please note that these amounts are subject to change as minimum wage increases, and state laws vary and are not always the same as the federal maximum.  The Department of Labor website provides more information on these rates.  

CCPA protection does not apply to wage garnishment for child support payments.  If you are supporting another spouse or child, up to 50% of your wages can be garnished to pay for your child support debt.  If you are not supporting anyone else, up to 60% can be garnished.  If you are more than 12 weeks behind in payments, and additional 5 percent may be garnished.

Other debts have different amounts that may be garnished.  The Department of Labor provides a phone number specifically for garnishment information: 866-487-9243.

Keep in mind this does not apply to child support, which can cause garnishments of up to 60 percent of your weekly income.

For your states debt- collection laws, check your state’s consumer-protection office.

 

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