"They said they would garnish me, so I paid." Unfortunately, I hear this a lot. A scared client comes into my office after being bullied by an aggressive debt collector. "I wish you would have come to the office before you paid." That's usually what I say. Certain things MUST happen before a debt collector can take your hard earned money from your bank account.

Here we go:

Have you been sued by the collection agency or the creditor? If not, no garnishment.

If you have been sued, have you been served with a summons to appear in court? If not, no garnishment.

Has a final judgment been entered against you? If not, no garnishment.

That's the easy part. Let me give you some steps to follow if you are served with a summons and a lawsuit.

Go to the hearing and ask the judge (not the lawyer representing the party that sued you) for a continuance. You have a right to counsel. Use it. Being sued over a debt is not the time to get ambitious and defend yourself. You will probably lose. Seek legal advice immediately.

If you can't find a lawyer right away, continue to go to ALL court hearings. If you miss, the collection agency will take a default judgment against you. (Default judgment doesn't sound good because it isn't.)

Even after a judgment is entered, you don't have to pay right away. There will be more hearings to discover assets and your employer will be contacted and presented with the judgment. The employer, by law, then has to deduct a percentage from your wages to satisfy the judgment.

Bottom line: If you are served with a lawsuit, don't wait until the last minute. You have rights, even as a debtor. There are many steps that have to be taken before a legal garnishment can occur. I would be happy to speak with you and let you know what your options are. Call the Eason Law Firm at 314.932.1066 or contact us to discuss your legal matter.