In order to garnish, the collector has to have a valid judgment against you; that is, they sued you in court and you lost. This may have happened 7 years ago (or 14 if they renewed the FiFa certifying the judgment).
If you do not remember having been sued, (1) they may have the wrong person; (2) they may have claimed they served you when they had not; (3) they may have served the wrong person, thinking it was you; or (4) they may have (rightly or wrongly) served you by publication (by a notice in the legals section of the local legal paper, claiming they could not locate you. Ask the collector to show you a copy of the judgment this garnishment is based on. You are not likely able to fight this yourself. Call a good attorney to see if this can be quashed, depending on the facts.
If you found my answer useful, please check it as "helpful" here on Avvo. Answers to questions on Avvo are for general informational purposes only. Proper preparation of a bankruptcy case involves many factors and variables, and may lead to a different answer than that given here when all the facts are taken into consideration. The fact that a general question was answered on Avvo does not establish an attorney-client relationship; that only happens when both you and our firm sign a formal contract and a retainer is paid and collected.
The way this happens is by you moving without notifying your creditors, or by you refusing to answer the door for the plain clothes process server. This allows the creditor to the court you can't be found to make personal service and to allow 'substituted service,' usually by publishing in an obscure newspaper. Creditors love doing this because it almost always guarantees a default judgment. A smart creditor will hang on to the judgment until it is too late for you to appeal. So lesson learned - always let creditors know how to find you, don't leave irresponsible kids home alone, and when the doorbell rings, make sure you aren't dodging a process server. Hope this perspective helps.
Garnishments are matters of state law. IN our state of Washington, notice is merely sent to the last known address of the defendant! But you can get a copy of the garnishment writ or document from your employer payroll also. The documents at court are a matter of public record. Anyone can go down and obtain a copy of the declaration of service on how you were served process too. If you cant afford all that debt and others possibly bankruptcy is an option for you too.
You got prior notices; they just happened a while back and you didn't do what you should have done then (get a lawyer.) A garnishment happens after you lose a lawsuit (and you were served then). That can be 7 years ago (far older than that if the creditor renews a fifa).
You now have a legal emergency which means your plans for Friday have been changed. You will need to see a lawyer. The lawyer may suggest bankruptcy if you qualify (which eliminates/stops garnishments). It is also possible that there is a defect in that old suit, or even in the garnishment filing (although you may have waived forever many defenses when you lost or ignored the old suit). And once in a blue moon, a garnishment is filed against the wrong person. Your time windows to act are short and your options go away as you wait. So skip work, etc for the day and look for a bankruptcy attorney (even if you do something else, that is who can best advise you). This is not a pro se project; get counsel. Good luck.
If my answer does help you, please consider marking it helpful, or a best answer. In answering your question I am basing my answer on the limited information here, and more information is likely needed to properly and fully answer, but hopefully the answer helps. Please know that in answering I am not your lawyer and am only providing general information. To retain a lawyer you need to enter into a written retainer with the lawyer (and you have not hired me simply because I answered something here). AVVO has useful tools to contact the lawyers you see on AVVO. Please be aware I am licensed only in Georgia, so an answer in another state may be different. You should not rely on online questions as a final legal answer or a "how to" and need to sit down with a lawyer to get an answer to safely rely on. Many legal cases have vital deadlines that you may miss with delay, so please be aware of that. Now here's the "legalese" we lawyers need to add: Please do not construe anything here to make you a client of Glen Ashman. Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice (and only applies in Georgia). There is no right to rely on the information contained in this answer and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing here is tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. If the contents of this answer discuss debts or bankruptcy, this office is required to advise the recipient that the US Congress has designated our office as a debt relief agency that assists people in filing bankruptcy.
The garnishment is based on a judgment that was issued in an earlier case. (The name of the court and the case number of the judgment case should be stated on the "affidavit of garnishment" in the garnishment file.) You should have an attorney review a complete copy of the judgment case file. If you truly did not receive any prior notification, then an attorney can help you fix this situation.
The information ("the answer") provided above is for general information and educational purposes only. The answer should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Posting the question and reviewing the answer does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. My firm will ask you to sign a written contract prior to the commencement of any attorney-client relationship. Please call 770 427 5600 or 404 373 1970, if you wish to discuss your situation further. Skaar & Feagle, LLP accepts select consumer rights cases. These cases include, but are not limited to, cases of abusive and unlawful collection activity, unsolicited robocalls or text messages, unfair business practices to consumers and the elderly, credit reporting of false or obsolete (old) information, credit report errors due to either identity theft or mixed files, denial of jobs or promotions due to erroneous criminal background searches and the defense of lawsuits involving consumer debts such as credit cards, auto loans, or consumer loans.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.What determines Avvo Rating?Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline