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Wage Garnishment in PA

The laws concerning wage garnishment are always changing. This is not legal advice, This is for informational purposes only please consult your attorney about additional laws concerning your rights.

Wage Garnishment Rights In PA 

In Pennsylvania, debt collectors may garnish a person's bank account and wages to recover unpaid debts. The majority of garnishments occur after a court judgment has been entered, although its possible to garnish before judgment in limited situations.

A bank garnishment is started when the debt collector sends a garnishment summons to your bank. The bank must seize all funds in your account on the day they process the garnishment. You will not get notice of the garnishment until after your money has been frozen, which unfortunately can result in overdraft fees and bounced checks.

A wage garnishment is different. The debt collector must notify you of their intent to garnish your paycheck at least 10 days before sending a garnishment to your employer. When your employer gets the garnishment summons, they must seize 25% of your take-home pay for each pay period until the debt is satisfied.

What should you do if your bank account or wages are being garnished? First, determine if any portion of the funds that were taken are exempt. PA law provides that certain things are exempt from garnishment. For example, a debt collector may not keep most forms of need-based government aid, such as social security, medical assistance, or energy assistance. And a debt collector can only keep up to 25% of your wages, even after you deposited them in your bank account. There are too many exemptions to list here, so you may want to consult with a lawyer to determine what exemptions you may claim. A lawyer can also help you claim an exemption and get your exempt funds back.

If your bank account has been garnished, you should also determine whether any of the money that was taken belonged to a joint account holder who has nothing to do with your underlying debt. Under
PA law, a debt collector may not keep funds in a bank account that were contributed by a joint account holder who is not responsible for the debt.

Finally, you should think about whether you can get the underlying court judgment vacated, or re-moved. If the judgment was obtained by default and you were never served with a lawsuit, a court should vacate the judgment and return the garnished funds to you. It may also be possible to get a de-fault judgment vacated even when you were properly served with the lawsuit. A lawyer can tell you whether your chances of getting the judgment vacated.


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What is Wage Garnishment?

Having your wages garnished is a very difficult thing. You work hard to pay your rent or mortgage, the utility bills keep going up, and sometimes you don’t even know if you are going to be able to put gas in your car. You have a family to support and living paycheck to paycheck, hand to mouth, is killing you. Then the unthinkable happens! Your employer starts taking money out of your paycheck. When you go to Human Resources, they tell you there is nothing that can be done because it is the law. You’ve suffered a severe cut in pay just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse! You have to know: what is a garnishment and what are your rights?

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Wage garnishment is a terrible thing to endure. You work hard all day and put in crazy overtime just to be told your hard earned money is coming out of your check. You knew you were being sued for a car payment, or because you had to move out of your apartment, or because the court wasn’t fair when it ordered child support or alimony payments. You just couldn’t afford what the court ordered, no matter how hard you tried. Plus, when your court date came, you went to work and missed it because you couldn’t get time off. Now 25% to 60% of your money is being taken out of your paycheck! It is not acceptable to you. You need to fight it or you won’t be able to put gas in your car to get to work in the first place. It is a terrible Catch-22.
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