Can A Collector Garnish My Wages Or My Bank Account?

Can A Collector Put A Garnishment On My Wages Or My Bank Account?

garnishmentGarnishment is one of the more dangerous threats that a debt collector can make against you.  To take the money in your bank account.  To have your employer say “I’m having to withhold 25% of your paycheck to pay a garnishment.”

Most of us are not in a position where we can handle our bank account being drained or to lose 25% of our paycheck.

Debt collectors know this.

So when they threaten you with garnishment, they fully expect it to produce a reaction from you.

It normally causes fear.

It causes your stomach to tighten up.

Your chest to hurt.

It feels like the world is closing in around you and there is no way out.

How will you pay for your mortgage or your rent or your food or gas to drive to work?

Will you get fired for having your wages garnished?

So, Can A Collector Threaten To Garnish Your Wages Or Your Bank Account?

The short answer is it depends.

On your bank account — does the collector have a judgment against you?

If so, then likely your bank accounts can be garnished.

If there is no judgment, then this threat is normally illegal.  We’ll discuss this below.

What about your wages?

If there is a judgment, then yes.

If you have a federal student loan and the company has received a wage garnishment ruling in an administrative hearing, then yes.

Or if no judgment or no administrative hearing award for a federal student loan, then the threat is illegal normally.

When Is A Threat To Garnish Wages Or Bank Accounts Illegal Under The FDCPA?

The FDCPA prevents a debt collector from threatening (or actually doing something) that is not authorized by the law.

So here are some examples:

  • “If you don’t pay this old credit card today, we will garnish your wages.”  This is illegal unless there is a judgment against you.
  • “You either pay this debt now, or I’ll send a wage garnishment order to your employer today.”  Illegal unless there is a judgment or a wage garnishment administrative order in place.
  • “You don’t want to ignore me — we will sue and garnish your wages.”  Illegal as suing does not give the right to garnish wages.  Only winning  a lawsuit — getting a judgment — gives the right to garnish wages.
  • “I’ll garnish your wages today.  What’s the number to your payroll department.  They’ll take the money out today!”  Illegal as no right to do this.  It is also illegal as it is a lie.


Keep in mind that threats of wage garnishments and bank garnishments are a favorite tactic of abusive collectors.

Contact Us.

When this happens, if it is illegal, consider suing to stop abusive debt collectors to protect yourself and others.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 1-205-879-2447.

Or fill out a contact form and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

I look forward to chatting with you!

Have a great day!

-John G. Watts


  1. kristin says:

    Can you please send this to me for the state of Ohio?

Leave a Comment