At the Fishback Law Corp in Irvine, we help consumers throughout Orange County and Southern California fight back against attempts by creditors to deprive them of the livelihood by garnishing their wages or taking away their valuable property that they need to get by. Repossessions, garnishments and lawsuits are all steps creditors frequently take to collect on a debt owed by a consumer. Creditors and bill collectors are limited in what they can do in these areas, and protections for the consumer are available through bankruptcy and other means.
A secured debt is a debt where the obligation to repay is “secured” by some underlying property or collateral. For instance, if you obtain financing to buy a car, the car loan is likely secured by the car itself, so that if you fail to keep up with the payments, the financer may repossess the vehicle. Other types of secured debt may be your home mortgage or major purchases such as home appliances. Also, if you are simply applying for a loan or extension of credit for cash, you may be putting up collateral for the loan. In all these cases, the creditor may seek to repossess the property if you fail to meet the terms of the credit agreement.
When you file for bankruptcy, any collection efforts, including repossession, are put on hold by the imposition of the Automatic Stay. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can save your property from repossession by adjusting the debt and making payments under a three or five-year plan that you develop and that fits comfortably within your means and monthly disposable income. Under Chapter 7, the Fishback Law Corp can renegotiate the terms of your existing car loan in an effort to obtain a lower interest rate for you.
A garnishment is a court order which requires an employer to withhold a specified amount from the worker’s wages and turn that money over to the creditor named in the order. In most cases, a wage garnishment is limited to 25% of your disposable earnings, which is basically your take-home pay after deductions and withholdings are made. For some types of debt, however, up to 50% or even more of your weekly wages may be garnished.
If you file for bankruptcy, the automatic stay will put a stop on the garnishment, and you can resume receiving your regular wages during the bankruptcy. Also, if the underlying debt is dischargeable in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be able to have the debt wiped out, and the garnishment will be gone forever.
In order to obtain a garnishment or other collection method, such as placing a lien on your property, the creditor must first take you to court and obtain a judgment against you. This is often done by professional bill collectors who buy up debt for pennies on the dollar and use every method imaginable to get what they can from you, including suing you.
If you are served with summons to appear in court, do not ignore it. If you do, you may have a default judgment entered against you, and then the creditor will then proceed to obtain a lien, garnishment or other method of executing the judgment. If you dispute the amount or existence of the debt, you may be able to challenge it in court with a skilled Orange County lawyer. You may also have other defenses, such as if the bill collector violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or other laws aimed at preventing unlawful harassment by creditors.
Contact our seasoned legal team in Irvine, CA
Our practice focuses on bankruptcy and other means for debt relief for the overwhelmed consumer in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside and all of Southern California. We engage in bankruptcy litigation as necessary to protect your property and wages and help you find relief through the appropriate bankruptcy chapter or debt settlement negotiation. Contact the Fishback Law Corp in Irvine to find out how we can help you save your valuable assets from the clutches of the bill collector.