How to Deal With a Wage Garnishment in Oregon (or most any state!)

If you think it is hard to make ends meet now, what would you do if you had 25% of your paycheck taken as a result of a garnishment?

22853064975_8c547f714f_m.jpgBefore I show you how to deal with a wage garnishment here in Oregon (or for most any state), let's get some things straight:

THIS GARNISHMENT DIDN'T JUST HAPPEN!

I can't tell you how many times one of our clients calls to tell us that a debt collector or creditor just garnished their paycheck and they had no idea it would be happening.

OK, I know that in some VERY RARE CASES, they may have not received or seen the SUMMONS that came in person or by registered mail, but in most cases, they got it, but just ignored it.

Brief review of the collection process and how this happened:

If you find yourself in a very difficult financial situations due to a number of things, such as:

  • Loss of employment
  • Divorce
  • Death of spouse or partner
  • Illness or disability
  • Too little income after retirement

...and, you simply cannot keep up with the minimum payments required by your creditors, here's what usually happens:

When you miss a scheduled payment, you may get a phone call or letter.

If you don't reply or miss another, you ABSOLUTELY will get a phone call or letter....lots of em'!!!

(I'll show you how to ultimately put a stop to these calls later, but for now, let's keep moving through the process that could lead to a WAGE GARNISHMENT.)

The creditors wants to do whatever they can to get you to start making payments again.

You may get a letter offering to "bring your account current if you make "such-n-such" payment by a certain date.

Or, they may say to call them to look into a "Hardship Program" (which I really don't like).

But if you just can't afford any payment after paying  rent, utilities and buying groceries, WHAT NOW?

In most cases, the original will CHARGE OFF the balance of the debt you owe them.

This means that they are going to report to the 3 major credit bureaus:

  • Experian
  • Equifax
  • TransUnion

...that they didn't pay them back as promised and they have lost a lot of money!

Your account will most likely be transferred or sold to a debt collection agency.  This may even be a Law Firm that only deals with debt collection.

Now, you start getting calls and letters from the debt collector, but the good news is that now, you can LEGALLY STOP THE CALLS.

As long as your account was with the original creditor, they had the right to call you about your account.

But, once that account is charged off and placed with a collection agency, you have the right, according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, to demand that they stop calling you. 

The letters will continue, but the annoying, and sometimes HARASSING phone calls will stop.  Here's how you do it:

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

But, just because they have stopped calling doesn't mean that they have stopped trying to collect!

If they cannot get you to start making payments to them (they may even offer a reduction in the balance...called a SETTLEMENT) then they may decide to FILE A CLAIM against you in your county's courthouse.

The debt collector's CLAIM say that you have not fulfilled the promise to repay this debt and they are going to seek legal action against you....sue you!

You will get a SUMMONS, and it will state all of the above and it will state that you have 20-30 days (varies by state) in order to give an ANSWER.

OK, lots of "big words" there, so let me give a simple definition:

SETTLEMENT  

This is when the creditor and/or the debt collector agrees to a substantial reduction of the balance to settle this account, once and for all.

If your interested, here's some actual examples of settlements we have negotiated for some of our clients:

Recent Settlements See what we have  done for our clients!

CLAIM   

The Debt Collector or in some cases the original creditor files a claim in court that you owe them money. When this happens, you get "served" a SUMMONS.

 

SUMMONS

The summons names you as a DEFENDANT and the Creditor or Debt Collector is the Plaintiff.  They have "claimed" that you owe this debt unless you can prove it, and I mean, absolutely prove it with copies of canceled checks, etc.

 

ANSWER

If you know, for certain AND CAN PROVE IT....FOR CERTAIN, then you have the legal right to file AN ANSWER with the court.  Not only does it cost you a FILING FEE (I believe it is about $165 here in Oregon), it has to be legally correct. 

In other words, you may think about hiring an attorney to prepare the ANSWER. And, of course, that costs more money!

But, IN MOST CASES, you really do owe the money, so giving an "ANSWER" is not necessary.

So, NOW WHAT?????

If you cannot negotiate a settlement or arrange a repayment agreement, the Plaintiff (debt collector), may decide to just go forward with a court date in order to be awarded a JUDGMENT.

Once the JUDGMENT has been awarded to the Plaintiff, they can apply for a WRIT OF GARNISHMENT.

This Writ of Garnishment is sent to your employer and your employer has no choice but to honor it.  This means that they are going to withhold (after all of the other withholdings) another 25% of your net, take-home paycheck!

So you see, this garnishment didn't just happen....there was a long process and it could have been stopped numerous times along the way!

What too many people do when they finds themselves in a terrible, financial hardship is to "hide their head in the sand" rather than seek numerous solutions.

Believe me, the last thing most creditors what to do is to have to spend the time and money to file a claim, follow up with calls and letters to you, and possibly spend more money in setting a court date, paying an attorney to represent them, etc.

Last week, we had a client call us to say that she had neglected to act on a summons she had received and the creditor (plaintiff) had been awarded the judgment....acted on the judgment....and her HR department sent her a message that her check would be garnished about $500!

We were able to contact the attorney for the collector and negotiate a repayment plan (you rarely get much, if any of a reduction/settlement after a judgment has been awarded) whereby our client agreed to pay only $200 per month until the balance was paid.

She could not handle the loss of $500, but she could make $200 work.

FINALLY....

Here in Oregon (or in any state for that matter), the best way to deal with a garnishment is to not let it get to that state.

But, if it has, then you may be able to get a reasonable repayment agreement in place.

If you need help or guidance, let us know:

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Tags: debt settlement, hardship plans, summons, debt collector, oregon wage garnishment, debts

Dealing With Debt Collectors Can Be Frustrating!

If you have ever had to deal with a deal collector, you know how frustrating and stressful it can be!

  • First you get the letters from the debt collector.
  • Then, you get the phone calls.
  • From then, you get a combination of angry and sometimes threatening letters and calls!
  • If you chose to ignore all of this, you may get a knock on your door and be served a summons!

Yes, very stressful and frustrating.

But, here are some tips to make this process somewhat bearable:

You must understand the basics of the DEBT COLLECTION PROCESS:

Let's say you have several (unsecured for the sake of this blog) accounts including:

  • Credit Cards
  • Store Cards
  • Medical Bills
  • Private Student Loan
  • Personal Bank Loan

Not that unusual for the average person to have $7,000 - $15,000 of unsecured debt these days.  As long as you are making at least the minimum payments, everyone (your creditors) are happy.

But, miss a payment or two and the DEBT COLLECTION PROCESS starts.

Once your account gets a couple of months behind, it will most likely be transferred to  the "collection or recovery" department within the company.  They send letters and start making calls.

By-the-way...here's a link to show you how to stop collection calls from DEBT COLLECTORS.

But, as annoying as the calls are, as long as the account is with the the original creditor (not transferred to a debt collector), they have the legal right to call you.  Now, once that account is transferred, sold, written off, etc. and lands with a Debt Collector, you can request/demand that they stop calling.

STOP Collection Calls Free Sample Letter

If your account is still with the original creditor, you may be able to get a settlement (reduction in the total you owe), but most likely they are going to offer you some sort of HARDSHIP PROGRAM...but, BE CAREFUL!

In most "hardship programs", the original creditor offers to let you lower your monthly payment for 6 months or so and then "reconsider".  While this may cut your overall payments, inevitably, you will have to go back to making the larger payments.

So now you are late on your payments, the calls and letters are still coming, but there's not a lot you can do about it due to your financial circumstances.  What happens to your debt now?

In most cases, the creditor will hire a Debt Collection Company to try and get as much money from you as possible.

Dealing with debt collectors can be very intimidating for the average person.  They call several times a day and leave messages (for anyone and everyone to hear) that says that you need to return their call right away.

So, you call them back, and here is where it gets frustrating.  Debt collectors are trained to do one thing...GET AS MUCH MONEY OUT OF YOU IN THE SHORTEST PERIOD OF TIME they can!

You try and explain your situation, thinking that the debt collector will actually "care".  While it is true that not all debt collectors are bad people, it has been my experience over the last decade of dealing with them for my clients that the average debt collector has just gotten (for lack of a better word) "calloused".

You owe their client (the creditor) money...their job is to get it....period.

The debt collector will tell you that you must pay this much in this period of time and there is nothing else available.  But, that is usually not true.  In most cases, some sort of settlement can be negotiated.

The problem with trying to negotiate on your own for your own debts, is that you are (obviously) emotionally involved, stressed out, frustrated and scarred of what the debt collector can and cannot do to you!

If you are going to try and negotiate and/or work out agreements with debt collectors, I strongly advise you to learn about what your rights are as a consumer in dealing with them.

The Federal Trade Commission has some very good information on their sight that you should investigate. 

                    Go to: Consumer Information about Debt Collection.

The more prepared you are, the better your chances are that you can negotiate a good settlement or repayment plan.

If you are unsuccessful in coming to a mutually agreeable settlement, the debt collector may take the final drastic step and file a complaint against you.

They will hire an attorney who is licensed in your state to file a claim in your county's courthouse.  Next, you will be served a summons.  A lot of people try to avoid accepting the summons, but eventually you will be served.

unfortunately, a lot of people who are served a summons choose to ignore the summons.

                   BAD MISTAKE!  Please, DO NOT IGNORE A SUMMONS

                    Check out a recent blog on this that will be very helpful.

The goal of the claim and summons is to either:

  • Scare you into sending them money
  • Being awarded a "default judgment" so they can pursue wage garnishment.

But, the are EXCEPTIONS!  Basically, only W-2 wages can be garnished and each state has it's own variation of how much, etc.

The basic guideline for garnishment is 25% of your net take-home pay!  Wow!  Suppose you are bringing home a modest $2500 per month.  At 25%, that's $625 they can get and there's little to nothing you can do about it.  That is why you can't ignore a summons.!

Debt collection in Texas is a little different in that there is no wage garnishment for residents of Texas! However, your bank account could be garnished or better, levied in Texas, so be careful.

Their are more protections and/or exemptions that would prevent a debt collector form being awarded a wage or even a bank garnishment.  Again, if you are going to try and go it alone with debt collectors, you have to know what type of income is and is not available for garnishment!

I live in Oregon, and debt collection in Oregon can be very, very stressful and frustrating!  It seems that the smaller debt collection companies are tougher to work with than the larger ones.  Some debt collections companies are actually attorneys who only deal with debt colletion.  However, they can and will work out settlements, depending on your various circumstances.

Finally, if you decide to DIY and deal with the debt collectors on your own...good luck!

worry rocking chair

It is a frustrating and stressful situation to be in.

  • Know your rights
  • Know the debt collectors rights
  • Know the process

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Tags: settlements, wage garnishment, debt collection in oregon, hardship plans, debt collector, credit cards, debt collection in texas

Debt Settlement in Oregon

debt settlement in oregonCan I use debt settlement in Oregon to clear up old debts?

YES! Debt Settlement is a viable option that creditors will consider when you are facing difficult financial times.

HOW DOES DEBT SETTLEMENT WORK?

After you have been delinquent in paying your accounts, usually those accounts go into an INTERNAL RECOVERY department within the company.  During the first couple of months, you will receive numerous calls and letters about your account.  These calls can be VERY ANNOYING, and in some cases, put your job in jeopardy if they call you at work!

THE GOOD NEWS is that you can PUT A STOP TO CREDITOR CALLS.

According to the FAIR DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES ACT (FDCPA), once you have requested/demanded that the creditor stop calling you, they must stop!  If they continue, you can report them to the State Attorney General's office and they may be subject to a hefty fine!

After approximately 120-180 days, if the creditor has not bee successful in getting you to start paying again they may offer your a Hardship Plan. Before you agree to their offer of a "HARDSHIP PLAN", you need to read  BEWARE OF SO-CALLED HARDSHIP PLANS!

If you choose to decline the Hardship Plan, your account wil be CHARGED OFF, it will be placed with a COLLECTION AGENCY.  This agency may also be a law firm that only specializes in debt collection.

At this point, the calls and letters start again! Even though you requested that the original creditor stop calling, now your account has been placed or sold to a different company and you must send the demand-to-stop calling letter again!

Your account has now been delinquent for approximately 6 months, and depending on your circumstances, a settlement offer of 50% or less may be possible.  It takes a lot of time and effort to secure a good settlement, but settlements can and are negotiated all the time.

Click here for some ACTUAL SETTELMENT EXAMPLES.

If you are able to negotiate a good settlement (50% or less), before you send money or agree to a check-by-phone, GET THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT IN WRITING!

Many consumers have made a verbal agreement over the phone, authorized a settlement payment, and then find out that the company claims that the payment was just toward the ENTIRE BALANCE, and not a settlement-as-agreed.

Yes, DEBT SETTLEMENT IN OREGON as well as most all states is possible, but time consuming.  We have been helping people become DEBT FREE through DEBT SETTLEMENT FOR MANY YEARS  and may be able to help you also.


Tags: fair debt collection practices act, debt collectors, hardship plans, stop the collection calls, debt settlement in oregon

How to Legally Eliminate Debt

Is there a way to legally eliminate debt? 

Recently, a client contacted us after hearing that our programs were not recognized by the courts. So, let's address this question:

Can you legally eliminate debt through a Debt Management or Debt Settlement Program?

And the simple, honest answer is YES !

Unsecured debts, such as:

  • Credit card
  • personal loan or line of credit
  • bank loans
  • cash advance loans
  • medical bills
  • repossessions

...are granted to the consumer under a contract or agreement. The consumer agrees to receive the credit (money/funds/item) with a promise to repay according to the contract.

What happens if the consumer cannot or does not repay the debt?

The creditor can attempt to collect through using various methods within the guidelines of the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act.  In most cases, a settlement offer of the account for less than orignially agreed upon, will be made.

When the settlement is completed, either paid in lump sum or in a series of payments, the account is deemed to have been either:

  • Paid-as-agreed or
  • 
  • Settlement-as-agreed

Your credit report will report this debt to have been paid in the same way with a ZERO balance. 

The "court" does not consider a supplemental payment plan or settlement agreement to be illegal as the creditor has the right to modify the original agreement!

If the debt forgiven is over $600, the the creditor may report it to the IRS and you would receive a 1099-C indicating that you may be responsible for additional taxes on the amount forgiven.

However, if at the time of the settlement (forgiveness) you were basically insolvent, meaning your debts (all debts: mortgage, car, student loans, credit cards, loans, etc.) were more than your assets (and in about 99% of the time they were), then you would not be required to pay any tax on the amount forgiven.

In fact you or your tax preparer can file intructions with IRS 4681 and then file a simple form IRS 982.

So, yes, you can legally become debt-free through debt management or debt settlement.

It may be in your best interest to seek professional help.

 

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Tags: fair debt collection practices act, debt settlement, hardship plans, legally eliminate debt

Hardship Plans...BE CAREFUL !

I'm in trouble!

You are late or behind on your credit card payments.  The agent calls and tells you about Hardship Plans.  Is this a good deal?

Never forget that the goal of the credit card industry is to make money...lots of money!

They don't care...                    

  • about you
  • your family
  • if you lost your job
  • have had major illness

So when they offer a hardship plan, remember the saying,

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A typical hardship plan will waive or reduce interest rates and fees fo 6 months or so.  The pitch is that this will give you a little breathing room and you can renegotiate your payments or plan later.

  • They will want you to set up automatic deductions from your bank account or send them 6 months of post dated checks.  Doesn't sound too secure, does it?

OK, so maybe you agree.  Let's examine the plan.

  • Your balance is $5000. 
  • You current minimum monthly payment is $150 or so. 
  • They offer you payments of $100/month for 6 months at a reduced rate of 6% and no fees.

After six months:

  • you've paid $600
  • $144 went to interest 
  • $456 went to reducing the principle 
  • your balance is $45444

Now it is time to renogiate your plan.  More often than not, you'll be back to high interest rates and fees which means it will take you several years and thousands of dollars in interest to pay off your card.

Some plan!

Tags: best way to eliminate credit card debt, common collection practices, debt relief solutions, hardship plans