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Can a credit card company garnish my SSD checks or take money from my checking account?

Milwaukee, WI |

Due to an abusive relationship, I had to make a forced move out of state and was no longer able to pay on a credit card. They were not helpful with me and now they say they have a judgement on me and want, what amounts to, two of my SSD checks by the end of the month or they will start garnishment procedures. I am afraid I will be living on the streets. The card is from Virginia.

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Attorney answers 3


If your only income is Social Security Disability, then it is not likely that a creditor, even one with a judgment, can reach these funds. Since you re in Wisconsin, the creditor will have file with a Wisconsin court before having any legal right to garnishment proceedings. You may want to contact the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, as they may be able to help you communicate with this creditor to get them off your back. Alternatively, you could try consulting wtih a private attorney about this matter, though you may have to pay a consultation fee.

I would also check to see if they really have a judgement against you on the Wisconsin CCAP system. I have provided a link to the search page below. If you lived somewhere else, then check with the courts in those areas too.

If the creditor is saying it has a judgment against you, but in reality it does not, then it is likely in violation of your rights under fair debt collection laws, both Federal and Wisconsin. There are monetary remedies that you could be entitled to under these circumstances.


They cannot garnish your Social Security check. They could potentially get a court order AFTER judgment to take money from your bank account although you can claim your bank account funds as exempt from creditors.

It sounds like you qualify for services from Legal Aid or Legal Action of Wisconsin. Legal Action has a bankruptcy clinic every week. Contact them to see if you qualify and get in to speak with a volunteer attorney about your situation in more detail.

My response to this question does not create an attorney-client relationship and does not consitute legal advice. The information is provided as a courtesy only. This format of written question and answer is too informal and lacks sufficient detail. It is almost never possible to give quality legal advice without a full set of facts and the opporutnity to have a dialog where questions are asked and answered. Moveover, posters on the internet should be aware that confidentiality is not guaranteed online. I am licensed to practice law in WI and IN.


Creditors cannot garnish or otherwise take SSD directly. However, if the creditor obtains a judgment against you, they can garnish bank accounts. That is a "one-time action," though, which means that each time they want to take money from the bank account they have to file a new garnishment action. That means, of course, that they have to know where you have a bank account in the first place.

Legal disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is formed by this communication. Any recommendation/information given through Avvo should be considered only as opinion.

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