What to do if you have a garnishee

Definition: Garnishee
A garnishee order is a court order requiring an employer to withhold part of their employee’s salary and pay the amount directly to that employee’s creditor for a debt which is due. This method ensures the employee makes some payments towards a debt they owe.

If you have been garnisheed because you have not paid a creditor it must be dealt with urgently. This is unfortunately not something your boss can help you with because if they don’t pay this money over each month they could end up having some of the assets of the company attached to settle the employees’ debt.

Very often when the amount being taken off a staff member’s salary is being negotiated in court they are nowhere to be seen. This is because consumers have a bad habit of not responding to attorneys. Effectively what happens is the collecting attorney and a judge agree on how much the consumer will pay each month. Although these amounts can be very low, they are often linked to very high costs for administrative and interest charges.

Here’s what you should do if you have a garnishee:

  • You must find out who the collecting attorney is.
  • Get an up to date statement of how much you paid to date and make sure this is correct.
  • Find out how much you have left to pay and what the monthly amount is.
  • Make sure you know the end date. If they can’t tell you this then you are possibly only paying the interest portion of the collection fee and not the actual debt itself.
  • Do a budget and assess if you can afford to pay extra each month to get rid of this debt faster. If you get some extra money you can also contact the collecting attorney to make an offer to settle the debt.

If you are finding this process difficult then ask your payroll administrator to assist you in getting the information.
Please note that if you do receive a letter of demand from a lawyer you must respond to it urgently so that it does not become a garnishee in the first place. As you now know, if you ignore this letter you are going to get slapped with huge legal and collection costs you will be forced to pay.

Most importantly, take debt very seriously. Don’t be so quick to just fill in forms and take goods and services from providers without checking if you can pay. This is how you avoid this type of mess in the first place.

If this and other forms of debt are causing you heartache, we strongly suggest you take control of it by learning why this is happening to you and how to deal with it.


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