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Pennsylvania Garnishment Laws

Pennsylvania Garnishment Law. What is it, and when can it occur?

A Garnishment is a means of collecting on a monetary judgment against a defendant by ordering a non-involved third party to pay the debt. The typical scenario is where a creditor obtains a judgment against a defendant and then tries to obtain funds (garnish) from the defendant's bank account. In a credit card case in Pennsylvania, this can only be accomplished after a final judgment has been entered in a court of law, after the filing of a lawsuit. The key in avoiding a garnishment is to defend against the lawsuit so that a final judgment is not entered. A garnishment cannot be had without a final judgment except in very limited circumstances typically involving government sponsered actions.

Spousal bank accounts cannot be garnished by a creditor unless that creditor obtains a judgment against both spouses. Other types of joint bank accounts (parent-child, friend-friend) may be subject to a garnishment if a judgment is entered against only one of the account owners.

A common threat that we see at our office is the threat of wage garnishment. To be clear, any threat of wage garnishment by a creditor in Pennsylvania is illegal. Wage garnishment can only occur in very limited circumstances in Pennsylvania, such as:

  • judgments for spousal or child support
  • PHEAA student loans
  • room and board for four(4) weeks or less
  • back rent on a residential lease
  • obligations relating to a final divorce distribution

If a creditor has threatened to garnish your wages, that is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). You may have the right to bring a claim against them, and you may be entitled to a statutory damage award in the amount of $1000, plus the recovery of your reasonable attorney fees.

Contact our office today at 412-281-1250 or 1-888-536-6644 for a no cost, no obligation review of your garnishment law issue.

Clay Morrow, Esq.

Clay handles the claims that are filed against debt collectors who make illegal threats or who place improper marks on your credit report.  Clay typically can make the debt collector pay your legal fees.

Greg Artim, Esq.

Greg defends consumers who have been sued by junk debt buyers, collection agencies or credit card companies. The odds of success in these cases are tilted strongly towards the consumer.

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