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  • Writer's pictureRobert Weed

You May Get Lots of Garnishment Threats, but Virginia Garnishments Hit Without Warning

Are you getting debt collector phone calls warning you of a garnishment? That usually means you still have time to protect yourself.

Debt collectors will call and say you can get garnished if you don't pay them. And that's usually true. (Threatening a garnishment if they can't legally due it is a violation of Fair Debt Collection. Underground debt collectors--people who know they are illegal and don't care--will make threats they can't carry out. But legit outfits stay away from that.)

But usually when a debt collector says you can get garnished if you don't pay, there are legal steps they'd need to take to do it. They make that threat because they want to get their money without having to go through all the legal steps.

If you ignore the threats, eight or ten months might go by and you think you are home free. Then, you get a Virginia warrant in debt. That's a court paper asking the judge to say you owe the money. I explain more about that, here. The judge saying you owe the money is a judgment.

With a judgment, they can hit you with a garnishment any time after a two week appeal period. Maybe they know where you bank; maybe they don't. Maybe they know where you work, maybe they don't.

Nothing might happen for years. Once they have recorded a judgment against you, they can get around to garnishing you any time in the next twenty years.

These days big debt collectors and creditors like Ford Motor have computers with artificial intelligence that tells them when to try to garnish you. If it looks like your problems are behind you, your credit score goes up, and that's when they track down your job or your bank and hit you with the garnishment.

Once they have that judgment on a warrant in debt, they do not need a new court date to get permission to garnish you. They just file a paper with the court, send a copy to your boss or your bank, and mail a copy to the last address they have for you. (There is a court date on a Virginia garnishment; but that's the stop date, not the start date.)

That's what I mean, garnishment hits without warning.

Once the bill collector has a warrant in debt judgment against you, they do NOT need a new court date to get permission to garnish you. Any time in the next twenty years, they can hit your bank or your pay without warning.

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