How do you find out who is garnishing your wages? This is a question many people who’ve noticed their paycheck was running a bit low want to know, as the discrepancy in earnings may stem from wage garnishment from creditors or the IRS. If you’ve been struggling with debt, your creditors may have resorted to automatically deducting a percentage of your earnings from your paycheck.
While you’ll have already received notice in many cases, there are certain instances where the garnishment may come as a surprise. This is why it is important to find out who is garnishing your wages.
Most Creditors Need a Court Order to Garnish Your Wages
Unless you owe child support, back taxes, or student loans, your creditors, those to whom you owe money, cannot garnish your wages unless they first get a court order. For example, if you have defaulted on a loan, stopped paying your credit card bill, or have run up huge medical bills, your creditors can’t just start garnishing your wages. They must first sue you, win, and get a court order requiring you to pay what you owe.
- Child Support and Alimony: Since 1988, all child support or alimony orders automatically include a wage withholding order. This means that if you are ordered to pay child support, your wages may be garnished without additional court action.
- Unpaid Income Taxes: If you owe back taxes to the IRS or your state and local governments, your wages can be garnished without having to obtain a court order against you. Just how much they can garnish depends on the number of dependents you have, your deduction amounts, and state law regarding wage garnishment limits.
- Student Loans: If you are behind on your federal student loan payments, the U.S. Department of Education (or any entity collecting on its behalf) can garnish your wages without a court order, which is referred to as administrative garnishment.
So How Do You Find Out Who Is Garnishing Your Wages?
Here are a few steps to take to discover who is garnishing your wages:
- If your paycheck is lower than usual and you suspect wage garnishment, look for “Other” or “Miscellaneous” deductions to find out whether your wages are being garnished. If you have been involved in a debt-collection lawsuit recently, or you owe the IRS money, they’re likely collecting the money due.
- Since your employer is required to provide you with a copy of garnishment paperwork, you should ask the payroll department at your job. If they are taking money out of your paycheck, they should give you a copy of the documents.
- Check back through any past correspondence with creditors. You may find a reference to wage garnishment which was overlooked.
- You should also request a credit report as soon as possible from all credit reporting agencies right away.
- Contact the Internal Revenue Service to find out whether your wages are being garnished. You should have received a garnishment notice from them.
Differing State Laws
Garnishment policies vary from state to state and bank to bank, so it is also important to understand your state’s laws on the matter. In a recent creditcards.com article, Gail Cunningham, senior director of public relations at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling adds,
“There are some states in which garnishment is approved, and clients should be aware if their debt occurred in a garnishment state or a state wherein garnishment is prohibited. And, although credit card debt is often sold to a third-party collector, it can be — and often is — subject to wage garnishment.”
Furthermore, wage garnishment is allowed in all states for unpaid taxes and child support.
Are Your Wages Being Garnished? Get Help Today!
Going up against creditors can be a daunting and scary process, but you don’t have to deal with this alone. An attorney at Suburban Legal Group PC can help you get the legal representation you need.
You can also download our book on the 12 Things You Should Know Before Filing For Bankruptcy. You’ll learn all the essentials on filing for bankruptcy in Illinois.
DISCLAIMER: All information on this website are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. Suburban Legal Group PC shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.