Don't Lose Time in Avoiding Wage Garnishment
By Siddarth Nagaraj
on May 24, 2011
Anyone who has experienced credit card debt is all too well aware of the determination that creditors show in extracting due payment regardless of the conditions that debtors may be facing. The behavior of creditors has always been characterized by relentless tenacity and a good deal of versatility when it comes to getting their money back, regardless of the consequences for debtors or the manner in which in the extracts. Tools used by creditors range from warning notices to debt collection agencies, but out of all these painful techniques wage garnishment stands out in several regards. Wage garnishment collects debt in a manner that targets debtors by extracting money from salaries, leaving already impoverished individuals struggling even more painfully to pay their bills, provide for their families, and salvage what remains of their precarious financial position.
Due to the severity of its nature, wage garnishment is typically only pursued as a last resort in the process of collecting debt from those who are either unwilling or unable to repay their creditors. The lender begins the garnishment process by obtaining a court order and the entry of a judgment for monies. The debtor is notified of the judgment and his/her employers are then contacted and instructed to withhold a specified amount of his/her wages. This standard holds until repayment of the debt has been satisfied. The inherent involvement of employers in the process is a major contributor to the particular discomfort that wage garnishment brings to debtors. Alerting employers to their delinquency and forcing them to withhold their wages embarrasses workers and generates a strongly negative perception of them among their bosses, who may deign to pass judgment on them by taking a dim view of their financial behavior. Debtors may fear passive discrimination or condescension by their colleagues, but even if this does not transpire, the publicizing of one’s financial troubles is always painful. They can find some solace in the Consumer Credit Protection Act, which prohibits dismissing workers due to wage garnishment, but the same legislation enables employers to do so once a second court judgment calling for wage garnishment has been approved.
So how to escape the pitfalls of wage garnishment? Ironically, the extreme nature of garnishment means that there are multiple opportunities to avoid it altogether. Although creditors are chiefly concerned with obtaining repayment, they do not wish to use harsh methods if they can avoid it, so forcing an employer to garnish a debtor’s wages is unpalatable to them. Furthermore, there are legal requirements which delay the process, giving debtors opportunities to repay before the situation deteriorates as badly as possible. Creditors are required to give debtors advance notice of legal action and give them time to repay, but it is strongly advisable that debtors actively engage with those to whom they owe money as soon as possible since it is not a good idea to abuse their patience. The best way to avoid wage garnishment is to confront issues surrounding your debt as quickly and as aggressively as possible. The more you avoid doing so, the worse your situation will get. Putting off delinquency notices will lead into a charge-off and a bitter tussle with debt collectors-events you can avoid along with wage garnishment if you repay debt consistently and continue to work with your creditors on resolving your problems.
Wage garnishment is always a painful experience and is not a process enjoyed by anyone who takes part in it. Ultimately, the debtor not only suffers the most but also has the most time to deal with repayment troubles as creditors use other means to regain their money. It is possible to escape wage garnishment, but only if you recognize that the only way to escape debt is to pay it off before it is too late.