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Common questions about wage garnishment, answered

When consumers take on more debt than they can handle, creditors sometimes turn to wage garnishment to collect the outstanding balance. Since there are a lot of questions surrounding this form of collection, we thought our readers in Lane County who are being harassed by creditors threatening to garnish your wages would be interested to learn more about the process as well as your legal rights.

Most states, including the State of Oregon, allow credit card companies to garnish your wages. That being said, there are restrictions. Before any money can be deducted from your paycheck to pay debts, the creditors must first obtain a court order. If multiple parties get collection orders, they will typically be paid in chronological order. There are certain debts that take priority, however. While laws vary from state to state, garnishments are usually ranked as follows: bankruptcy orders, unpaid taxes (federal), back child support, delinquent student loans (federal), unpaid taxes (state/local), delinquent student loans (state) and finally, other creditors. Credit card companies fall into the latter category. It is also important to remember that higher priority debts have higher withholding thresholds. For instance, up to 60 percent of your disposable income can be garnished to pay child support but only 25 percent can be withheld to pay other creditors.

Wage garnishments will not stop until the debt is satisfied or discharged by a court order. No amount of negotiating with or begging to your employer can make it stop. Those who are faced with overwhelming financial challenges including vehicle repossession, credit card debt and wage garnishment may want to speak with a bankruptcy attorney. 

Source: postcrescent.com, “Consequences of Black Friday debt: Collection calls and wage garnishment,” Ed Zalewski, Dec. 7, 2013

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