We get calls at Steidl and Steinberg quite often about creditors threatening to garnish wages.
You owe them several thousand dollars, and can’t afford to pay them. Now they say they are going to garnish wages, or take your paycheck. Can they do that?
When I ask someone a question, I want a definite answer. The last thing I want to hear is: “It Depends.” So I know you want me to give you a definite answer, don’t you? And here it is.
Who Can Take What?
It depends on who is trying to garnish your wages. You need to be aware that even those who cannot garnish your wages may not be out of remedies. They may be able to garnish your bank account, or attach or sell or lien your property, and when I say garnish, I don’t mean with onions and relish.
A garden variety creditor, say a credit card or a medical bill collector, cannot attach your wages in Pennsylvania. Thank the Pennsylvania legislature for that, and keep on thanking them by letting them know they should not change this policy.
But there are creditors who can attach your wages. Generally, a government, or someone collecting for a government, can do so. So if you owe taxes, or student loans, or a Small Business Association loan, or any government-related loan or debt, you are in danger of having your wages attached, and often without any notice. Wages are not the only thing subject to garnishment, as your income tax refund may vanish. In some cases, even Social Security checks can be attached, but not for credit card debt or medical bills or other non-government debts.
These creditors do have some remedies. For instance, they can sue you, get a judgment, and then attempt to attach your bank account. I get lots of calls from surprised potential clients whose accounts are frozen and who say to me: “I didn’t know they can do that?” They can, so take this advice to heart.
If you have any questions, call or email us at Steidl and Steinberg so we can get you answers in a hurry. And can we help you? Well... it depends.