man calculating wages

Can a Debt Collector Garnish My Wages?

Debt collectors have many options to collect debts, one of which is wage garnishment. A wage garnishment, also called a wage attachment, is a court order that requires your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck and send it directly to a creditor. In this article, we discuss wage garnishment in California. 

How Wage Garnishment Happens

If you default on a debt, such as a credit card, the original creditor may sell the debt to a debt buyer. If you are unable or unwilling to pay the debt buyer, it may sue you to try to collect the debt. If you ignore the lawsuit, a default judgment may be entered against you and the court may order your employer to garnish your wages to pay the collection agency. 

California Wage Garnishment Limits

California limits the amount that creditors may garnish from debtors. In California, a creditor may garnish the lesser of:

  • 25% of the debtor’s disposable earnings (income an employee receives after all tax and payment obligations have been met); or
  • The amount by which the debtor’s weekly disposable earnings exceed 40 times the California hourly minimum wage.

Fighting Wage Garnishment

There are several ways to fight wage garnishment in California, including: 

Contact the Creditor: If you are at risk of having your wages garnished, you should contact the creditor to try to arrange a settlement. If the creditor allows you to establish a payment plan, you can avoid wage garnishment. However, you should never attempt to negotiate with a creditor unless you have a California debt collection lawsuit defense attorney on your side. 

File an Exemption: If a wage garnishment has been ordered against you, you may be able to file an exemption to stop it or reduce the amount being garnished. To be successful with an exemption, you must prove to the court that you need the garnished money to provide for your basic necessities. 

Fight the Judgment: Finally, if your wages are garnished as the result of a default judgment, you can challenge the judgment in court. In California, there are several valid reasons to fight a default judgment. For example, you can fight a default judgment if you can prove that you did not receive actual notice of the lawsuit or that it was the result of a mistake, inadvertence, excusable neglect, or surprise. 

Contact a California Debt Collection Lawsuit Defense Attorney 

If you’ve been sued by a debt collector in California, you should have an experienced California debt collection lawsuit defense attorney on your side. At the Fullman Firm, our experienced debt collection lawsuit attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience fighting for consumers like you, and we take tremendous pride in helping our clients fight back against debt collectors. When you contact us for help, we will do everything in our power to obtain a successful result in your debt collection case. Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.