I have a collection agency that garnishes my wages each month from my check, can they also wipe out my bank account?

Asked over 2 years ago - Tacoma, WA

The deal is...I have a garnishment that comes out of my check each month from a debt collecter. Now, my wifes license is suspended from an unpaid ticket. The amount is owed to them to get an adjudification and get her license active again. Unfortunately, this is the same collection agency that garnishes my check each month. The amount was for 329. They ran my debit card, they said it was declined. I thought something was fishy, so i checked my BOA account online and noticed there was a hold on my account for over 984. I was told to wait next business day until it was processed. Account now says legal order. We had no notification they would dip in my checking account and take all our money. This was our rent money. What can we do?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Shawn B Alexander

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You will need to consult with a consumer protection or bankruptcy lawyer locally at once.

    Many lawyers on this site offer a free consultation and you should find one near you and make an appointment for specific legal counseling.

    1. Start keeping a detailed log of all calls and letters and a paper file of all information. Because persistent violations of the FDPCA are punishable by statutory fines and attorney’s fees under federal law, but you need hard evidence.

    2. Make a written demand that all further communications from creditors is in writing under 15 USC 1692 (c).
    The letter should also contain a dispute of the validity of the charges and include a demand for a complete accounting with signatures, and all contents of their file.
    The creditor then has 30 days to reply and they may not take any action until you have been sent the validation. Bear in mind that this may be motivation for the collector to work your account when the file comes to them from the original creditor with new information.

    3. Do not give them any personal information because that is how collectors decide on which accounts to recommend suing. Remember they may not tell the truth and will say just about anything to get a payment from you and that payment reaffirms the debt, gives them information about you and your bank and ability to pay.

    4. If you are going to make payments use money orders only and not personal checks, wire transfers, money grams, or “check by phone” because if the collector finds a bank account the collector will be more likely recommend a lawsuit to their legal department.

    5. All collections are negotiable; the original creditor has given up and is losing up to 50% on the face value already either by splitting any return or selling at a huge discount. In addition, the costs of a lawsuit although discounted still are a factor in the decision to settle with you.

    If you are going to settle mark the check “settled-in-full” at the very top back of the check and include a letter explaining you are offering a settlement, keep copies of everything.

    6. Get written confirmation of any payment plan the agency will accept before making a payment.

    7. Specify in writing that all payments will be applied to principle first.

    If you are ready to throw in the towel, go see a local bankruptcy attorney and explore your options for federal protection. The protection will even look back 90 days from filing and get back money taken by the collectors and apply it fairly.

    If your debt is with the government like the IRS or a State agency or for Child Support or taxes, the rules will be different and you will need a local lawyer at once.

    DO NOT use a paid debt settlement service; most of them are scammers.

    I have pasted a link to the FDPCA to help you with your state federal rights;

    Washington complaint form: http://www.dol.wa.gov/forms/600006E.pdf

    Washington statute regulating collection agencies: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=19.16

    Consumer rights in Washington: http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/collectionagency...

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit...

    You should read the FDPCA from the links above and become informed about your rights; this will help you and your lawyer.

    I hope this information and generic advice is helpful and If you found this helpful, please click the link for a good answer. Thanks.

    Good Luck

    Only If and until you and I sign an Agreement for Legal Services, I am not your attorney. These answers are... more
  2. E.P. Hackenberg

    Contributor Level 10

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . In order to collect a debt, the owner of a judgment may garnish wages and bank accounts. There are other collection methods also.

    Some sources of money cannot be garnished. It depends how the bank account was funded. You would need to speak with an attorney to go over this.

  3. Edgar I Hall

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Bankruptcy might be the fastest option to solve this problem. Whether or not the collection agency could do what they did is one thing and it will take time to prove that. In the meantime, you account will stay frozen and you will get deeper in the hole.

    Bankruptcy wills stop the garnishment as soon as you file and discharge the underlying debt. I would recommend seeing a bankruptcy attorney in your area.

    Any consumer protection claims you would have would survive provided you exempt them out as a potential asset. Then, when you have more time, go after them if you have a cause of action that is worth pursuing.

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