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Large number of Americans now experiencing wage garnishment

Wage garnishment can be devastating to anyone who is in debt and already has a difficult time making ends meet. Just how much creditors are allowed to take from your paychecks depends on where you live. In about 21 states, debtors only receive the federal minimum amount of protection, which means that up to 25 percent of their take-home pay can be garnished.

Florida laws offer better protection against the effects of wage garnishment than simply the federal minimum. We are one of three states that put caps on wage garnishment in such a way as to prevent paychecks from dropping below the poverty level.

According to a recent National Public Radio report, approximately 10 percent of working adults between the ages of 35 and 44 are currently having their wages garnished. This is one of the first large-scale studies of its kind, but it is nonetheless clear to see that wage garnishment for consumer and medical debt is a far more common practice than in the past.

Because a summons to appear in court is pretty easy to miss in a large pile of bills and late notices, many debtors fail to show up, which results in a default judgment for the creditors suing them. They may not realize their wages are being garnished until they see their first reduced paycheck.

If you are suffering wage garnishment, creditor harassment, liens, lawsuits or similar actions, you should know what protections bankruptcy offers. As soon as you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect. Legal actions against you will stop, as will calls, letters and other communications from creditors.

If you have more questions about the bankruptcy process or are wondering if bankruptcy is right for you, please contact an experienced attorney who can assess your case and inform you of your rights and options.

Source: National Public Radio, “Millions Of Americans' Wages Seized Over Credit Card And Medical Debt,” Chris Arnold and Paul Kiel, Sept. 15, 2014

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