Can creditors garnish my wages?

Bill collectors and creditors can garnish your wages. Of course, they need to have a judgment first. Before a bill collector gets a judgment against you, they first need to win in court. Before they win in court, the bill collector needs to serve you with papers. Before they serve you with papers, you have to default on your debts. Only after a creditor has done all these things can your wages be garnished by a bill collector.

Student loans are one of the few exceptions that do not have these prerequisites. Not only is there no statute of limitations on federally guaranteed student loans, but they if you default on these debts, they don’t need a judgment to garnish you. That means that if you don’t pay your federally guaranteed student loans, the Department of Education can get what is called an administrative wage garnishment. They simply print a letter and they send it to your employer, and your wages start getting garnished. With credit cards, student loans, auto loans, home foreclosures, and every other kind of debt, a collector or creditor needs this judgment before it can start garnishing wages.

Even if a creditor gets a judgment against you, there are many many exemptions to garnishment in the state of Florida. For example, the head of family exemption states that if you provide “more than half of the support for a child or other dependent” then you are exempt from garnishment whether you owe one million dollars, or you owe one dollar. Social Security, Pensions, and Veterans Benefits are also exempt from garnishment. The best way to find out if you are exempt is to discuss your case with an an attorney.