Pennsylvania Garnishment Law
In Pennsylvania, garnishment of wages can occur only in very limited circumstances. Debt collection for credit card accounts is not one of them.
In today’s society it is very easy to get a credit card. Unfortunately, some people obtain too many credit cards, then cannot keep up with the payments. The credit card company sends you a notice of default, and threatens a lawsuit. Then, either the lawsuit arrives, or, your claim is turned over to the dreaded collection agency, who again threatens a lawsuit.
Based upon my experiences with my clients, I have also found that collection agencies threaten other things, like garnishing your wages. I actually like those words coming from my client’s mouth, because it means that the debt collector has violated the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and my client now has a lawsuit against the debt collector.
In Pennsylvania, neither a credit card company nor a debt collection agency can garnish your wages at any time, even though they may threaten to do so.
Garnishment of wages in PA can only occur in very limited circumstances. The first circumstance is for child or spousal support. The second circumstance is for recovery of PHEAA student loans. The third is after a judgment is obtained for room and board of 4 weeks or less. Fourth, for back rent on a residential lease, and fifth, to satisfy obligation relating to a final divorce distribution.
As you may have noticed, collection on a civil credit card debt is not one of the listed circumstances where garnishment may occur. However, it must be noted that a credit card company or a debt collection agency can garnish your bank account IF they first obtain a valid judgment against you in a court of law. Threats to garnish accounts prior to obtaining a judgment are violations of federal law. It must also be noted that once your wages are deposited into your bank account, they are no longer wages. They merely mesh into the corpus of your bank account, and become subject to garnishment if a judgment against you is obtained.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Artim is a Consumer Attorney with offices located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For more answers to your legal questions, please visit his website at www.gregartim.com/garnishment.htm