Wage Garnishment in Pennsylvania
This is the number one threat issued by the collection agencies. What is wage garnishment? Garnishment of wages is a seizure of wages while they are still in the control of the employer, and have not yet been paid out to the employee. That being said, let's get right to it, wage garnishment for a credit card debt cannot occur in Pennsylvania, period.
Wage garnishment can occur in Pennsylvania only under very limited circumstances:
1) where there is a judgment for spousal or child support;
2) for recovery of defaulted PHEAA student loans;
3) for restitution on criminal matters;
4) for back rent on a residential lease;
5) for obligations relating to a final divorce distribution;
6) for certain tax obligations.
As you noticed, collection on a credit card or collection agency lawsuit is not on the list. Why does the collection agency make this threat then? Two reasons. 1) Because wage garnishment can occur in 46 of the 50 states in our country. They make this threat in Pennsylvania because they simply do not know the law. 2) Because they know that it is a scare tactic that works. The thought of having your wages garnished is a scary one, for sure. It gives quite a bit of incentive to voluntarily pay the debt.
The good news, as I have explained, is that wage garnishment cannot occur in Pennsylvania for a credit card or collection agency claim.
Let's move on to some other good news regarding wage garnishment threats. To make a threat of wage garnishment in Pennsylvania is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and can give you the ability to file a lawsuit against the collection agency. I always recommend that after such a threat is made against you, get the person's name, phone number and other contact information and make a notation as to the date and time of the call. Provide this information to your attorney who can then assess whether to file an FDCPA claim against the collection agency. If we file a claim against the debt collector, there is no out of pocket cost to you as we will force the offending agency to pay our attorney fees.
If you have a credit card company or a collection agency attempting to collect a debt from you, or, if you have a specific wage garnishment question, please contact my office at 412-823-8003 or send an email to Attorney Greg Artim or visit our Pennsylvania Credit Card Legal Center here.