Creditors get a garnishment only after they sue you and going to court. They probably sent notice to the last known address they had for you or published notice in the newspaper. You didn't show for court. They got a judgement. Now they are garnishing your wages for what you owe them.
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The only time a credit card company can garnish wages is after obtaining a judgment. Which means it must sue you first.
As for why, debtor agrees to pay back a debt, and doesn't. That is a breach of contract, and our laws allow people to sue to recover the money rightfully owed (as opposed to going to your house, beating you up, and taking whatever they can see....the benefits of living in a 1st world civil democracy).
However, bankruptcy is the BEST way to deal with this situation because it will stop the garnishment and extinguish the debt.
They can only garnish your wages under a court order of a final judgment. It is unclear from your answer if your wages are currently being garnished or if that is just something you are worried about.
There are relevant deadlines that are involved in credit card cases about how long they can wait before filing in court. It is unclear from your question if they have filed suit or not.
Usually the attorneys that pursue those cases do so in a situation where the bad debt has been bought for pennies on the dollar and they are just trying to see what they can get out of the deal. Sometimes they represent the original creditor directly. Acknowledging the debt can extend the time they have to file suit. Suggest you contact an attorney just to go over the case to see how best to handle it. Likely it is not worth it for you to pay an attorney for the whole case if you can't afford to pay the debt.
You may want to go to the courthouse to get copies of the documents in the file, especially the service document. Good luck.
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Creditors can sue on an unpaid credit card up to six years after the debt was incurred or the last payment made. If you are sued and lose, they can then enforce that judgment for 7 more years (by garnishment of wages and bank accounts, and other means), and that 7 years can be extended.
This is NOT going away. See a lawyer, as you may have remedies. One may be to wipe the debt out in bankruptcy. And if you have other options, the lawyer will tell you.
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They must sue you and win, either by default or after a trial, before they can garnish you. They will have a 6 year statute of limitations from the date of last activity to pursue the account, but have been known to sue even beyond that in the hope that the person being sued will not know how to make a statute of limitations defense or will not file an answer at all. Until then, they cannot garnish you, although that is what they will threaten you with. If they are harassing you, don't expect it to stop or go away. You can either pay them, settle with them, explore bankruptcy as an option to wipe them out, or wait around and let them sue and garnish you. Therefore, you need to be proactive.
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