If a debtor has failed to maintain payments towards a debt, the creditor may have to resort to wage garnishment to recover the debt. Generally, a creditor will try to work with a debtor to recoup what is owed prior to resorting to wage garnishment, which requires further time, cost and effort on their part. Corporations have to obtain a court order to apply to an employer for a wage garnishment through the District Court of Maryland. Government agencies, such as the IRS and child support agencies, can automatically attach garnishments without a court order.
Talk to the creditor. In order to avoid wage garnishment it is important to keep in contact with the creditor and make payments in accordance with any agreed-upon payment plan. Do not ignore correspondence and attempts by a creditor to contact you. Facing the problem sooner rather than later will help resolve the issue and avoiding further collection action, such as wage garnishment.
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Become familiar with Maryland's laws pertaining to the rights of creditors and debtors. This will help in negotiations with creditors. For example, in Maryland the statute of limitations for the enforcement of debts is 3 years for open accounts such as credit cards and written contracts and 12 years for domestic and foreign judgments. Laws governing garnishment can be found in Commercial Law of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
Consult with a debt counselor to get advice and assistance for dealing with debtors and getting wage garnishments lifted. Many nonprofit organizations provide free counseling services and assistance in negotiating with creditors. A debtor finding it difficult to explain his situation to a creditor may have better luck using a debt counselor to do so. Free debt counseling services are available. For example, the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland and Delaware, Inc. is an accredited nonprofit community service organization, "dedicated to helping individuals and families resolve financial problems."
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland and Delaware, Inc. 757 Frederick Road Baltimore MD 21228 1-800-642-2227 www.cccs-inc.org
File a "Claim of Exemption" form with the court that issued the court order, if the garnishment was court ordered. A debtor must prove to the court that the garnishment is providing severe financial hardship through proof of income and essential living expenses, such as rent, utilities and grocery receipts. The Claim of Exemption form is available at Maryland district courthouses. If a judge decides that the garnishment is causing hardship, he may set aside the garnishment and order the debtor to pay what he thinks is a fair repayment.