In TN. can your payroll check be garnished without first going to court?

Asked almost 5 years ago - Clinton, TN

I received a letter from an attorney that represents a credit card company in DE. The letter isoffering me a settlement of 65 cent on the dollar if I pay by the end of this month. If I don't pay garnishment. The question is can I be garnished without going to court first. I am not sure debt is mine. I requested a copy of the charges and a copy of my signature to verify it's mine, but I was told a letter was issued a few month ago and the debt is assumed mine because I didn't respond. I have not gotten any bill and did not receive a letter. I don't know how to contact credit card company to request information. Debt was supposed to be from 2006. If debt is mine I will pay but do not want to pay for something that is not mine. So can I be garnished with going to court in TN? Advise

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Kevin Drew Balkwill

    Contributor Level 12

    Answered . In the scenario you presented, the creditor must obtain a money judgment against you in a court of law before a garnishment can be issued to your employer. There is no legal assumption that the debt belongs to you, but you have a limited amount of time to request verification of a debt from the debt collector. That time has obviously run. You should still request verification of the debt in writing with the understanding that if the debt proves to be yours that you will agree to work out payment arrangements.

  2. Craig P. B. Raysor

    Contributor Level 6

    Answered . The last poster is correct regarding Tennessee law, a money judgment has to be sought in the Anderson County Court (General Sessions if its under$25,000 and Chancery Court if it is above this amount). Even if you are past the time that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act validation period, this can not be used in a court as an admission that you owe the money.

    You could hire an attorney, where all communication will go from them (may not be worth the money - I'm not sure in this case) or tell them to take you to court where the burden is on them to establish the debt. Unfortunately, if you lose (though many will still try to work out a settlement even up to this point) you will be subject to things such as garnishment, bank levy, and attachment of real property if you are not making payments. Plus a judgment as opposed to merely a collection will show up on your credit report. Good luck!

  3. Mark Hankins

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . I can't opine on Tennessee law, but here is a resource that would tend to suggest that the answer is no.

    Also, if the answer were to be "yes" it would be inconsistent with the vast majority of states.

    Some debts like federally-guaranteed student loans *are* subject to "administrative garnishment" without the need to go to court.

  4. Mark Hankins

    Contributor Level 16

    Answered . I can't opine on Tennessee law, but here is a resource that would tend to suggest that the answer is no.

    Also, if the answer were to be "yes" it would be inconsistent with the vast majority of states.

    Some debts like federally-guaranteed student loans *are* subject to "administrative garnishment" without the need to go to court.

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