Understanding the Threat of Garnishment

Garnishment, or wage garnishment, in particular, is perhaps one of the most feared terms in the English language. It is a last ditch effort for debt collection, and lets face it, none of us want to face it.

Unfortunately some of us may have to face wage garnishment, if repaying debt becomes an issue. The Department of Labor defines wage garnishment as “a legal procedure in which a person’s earnings are required by court order to be withheld by an employer for the payment of a debt such as child support.” In layman’s terms, wage garnishment is a court ordered action that requires a portion of your wages to be withheld to pay off a certain debt. Debts that can be paid with garnished wages include, but are not necessary limited to:

  • consumer debt
  • child support
  • defaulted student loans
  • taxes
  • unpaid court fines

Although wage garnishment can be tough to deal with, you are still entitled to rights as an employee and consumer. These rights are outlined in Title Three in the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Following the laws outlined in this piece of legislation, states that employers are not allowed to let wage garnishment impact the decision to terminate an employee.

Additionally, the Consumer Credit Protection Act protects employees by limiting the amount of earnings that may be garnished in any workweek or pay period to the lesser of 25 percent of disposable earnings or the amount by which disposable earnings are greater than 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by Section 6(a)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Although, wage garnishment isn’t the best situation, there are laws to protect you from unfair exploitation.

As stated earlier, wage garnishment is a last form of debt collection. Therefore, to prevent this last attempt to receive repayment on a debt, you should stay well informed of your debt notices. When wage garnishment is utilized, it is often too late to get your credit company on your side. Therefore, the key to avoiding garnishment is prevention. Try to contact your creditor the moment you are having trouble making payments. That way you can have the opportunity to explore other options before garnishment is absolutely necessary.

Sybria White

Sybria White

Sybria White is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon graduation in May 2010, she will leave Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, a Certificate in Career Development and will be awarded a Public Service Scholar. She plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Health following taking a year off to contribute to a National Service Program, such as AmeriCorps. Her undergraduate career has taught her the value of a sociological perspective, which has influenced her dedication to public service. She is a volunteer for W.D. Hill Recreation center, Peer mentor for minority students and has served as an active member of several campus organizations such as Sociology club, North Carolina Health Careers and Access Program, Community Government, and Minority Advising just to name a few.

Apart from contributing public service and active involvement on campus, Sybria is very passionate about creative writing and writing in general and hopes to bring a sociological point of view to her articles. Her interests outside of writing and public service include reading books concerning fashion and spending time with her family.

A well rounded curriculum involving Business and English academics in addition to sociology, have helped shaped this young writers’ unique voice. She is eager to share her newly acquired skills and looks forward to helping others approach every day problems from a new, and perhaps, sociological outlook.
Sybria White

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