Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Ossenfort: Credit card companies can only send garnishment paperwork to your employer if the credit card company or collection agency has been granted a judgment from a court for money owed.
Dear Credit Guy, Two days ago, I recieved garnishment papers from a credit card company. Within three days they took money out of our checking account. My husband is now talking to a lawyer about filing for bankruptcy. Can they just keep taking money out of our checking account without us knowing? I had 10 days to send in the paperwork for garnishment, but I didn't know that they would take money out of our checking account prior to me sending the paperwork back. Please advise. Heather
Todd Ossenfort: Dear Heather
The credit card company can only send garnishment paperwork to your employer and to your bank if the credit card company or collection agency has been granted a judgment from a court for money owed.
You should have received information from your credit card company or collection agency explaining that they filed a suit to collect what is owed them, along with a court date to appear or date to submit a response.
The precious lesson learned here: No matter how dire the circumstances, you always need to respond to court documents. By not responding, things tend to escalate from bad to worse.
The garnishment papers sent to your employer, and the money siezed from your checking account, are actually two separate issues.
First issue, the money taken from your checking account. Your bank would have to have been presented with a court order from a court that includes your personal information, your account number and the amount of the debt for which the order to levy your account was granted. Unfortunately, the amount taken from your checking account probably did not completely satisfy the total amount that you owe.
Second issue, if the garnishment order that was sent to your employer is from the same creditor as the order sent to your bank, it could be they were both granted from the court to collect the debt owed.
For them remove any additional money from your checking account, the collection agency would need to get another order from the court. It is possible that the collection agency will simply collect the remainder of what is owed using the garnishment order sent to your employer.
You should follow the advice of the bankruptcy attorney with whom your husband is meeting with. If you do decide that filing for bankruptcy is in your best interest. For now, avoid depositing any additional funds into your checking account until you know for sure the account will not be levied again or until your bankruptcy case has been filed.
Take care of your credit!