The first step a creditor must take to garnish your money, whether it is your wages or your bank account, is to get a judgment against you in court. Once the creditor has a judgment, garnishment is the most common way of collecting it.
So, if you are being garnished, there is already a judgment against you, somewhere. It is possible, but very unlikely, that the judgment can be set aside because the case was not served on you properly. This is much rarer than you might think.
If the creditor served you at your last known address, and you did not give them a forwarding address, it’s most likely valid. If the sheriff posted the notice on your front door but you always use the side door, it’s still valid. If your roommate took the notice off the door but forgot to give it to you, it’s still valid. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but don’t get frustrated if you can’t get out of the judgment.
There are basically only two ways to stop a garnishment if the garnishment order is valid.
- Satisfy the debt by paying it off or negotiating a settlement; or
- File bankruptcy. This is the surest way to stop a garnishment.
No offense to creditors, but I think of creditors as vampires, and your money is their tasty blood. They are going to suck you dry if they can. It doesn’t have to be that way! It’s time to use the law to help you!
Filing bankruptcy is like putting a stake through the heart of the garnishment case. When I file bankruptcy for my clients, I send notice to the court that ordered the garnishment, and to the creditor who filed the garnishment, telling them that you filed bankruptcy. They have to dismiss the garnishment case, and tell the garnishee (your employer or your bank) to give you back your money. Please be aware that there is a very short time limit to get your money back.
Don’t delay! Make the right call, right now!