Providing legal advice/representation for individuals and families in Philadelphia: Bankruptcy, estate planning and family law

Copyright 2009 Clair M. Stewart:  Philadelphia Bankruptcy Attorney. All Rights Reserved
100 S. Broad St.#1523, Philadelphia, PA 19110 Phone: 215-564-5150  Fax: 215-405-8055
Clair M. Stewart
Attorney at Law
Consumer Collection Law Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Should I ignore the telephone calls, letters and notices I get in the mail from collection agencies?

Absolutely not. You should answer the phone if they call you.  You need to clear up the reason why they are calling.  If you ignore them, they will not know your position regarding the debt and may very well file a lawsuit against you. Often times, they file the lawsuits in small claims court but sometimes they can sue you in the Court of Common Pleas.  If you do not show up (and they hope you dont), they may automatically win a judgment against you. The key to beating a collection agency is to defend yourself in court, preferably with the right attorney. There are a number of issues that the collections agency must prove in order to obtain a judgment against you, and they typically cannot do so.  You need an experienced attorney such as Clair M. Stewart to defend you.
5.  Can a Credit Card Company Garnish my Paycheck?

No. In Pennsylvania, a credit card company cannot garnish your wages if you live and work in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, your wages can only be garnished in very limited circumstances and Pennsylvania law does not permit a credit card company to do so.  If a credit card company threatens that they will garnish your wages, you may have basis for filing a lawsuit against them.

On the other hand, a Credit Card Company can garnish your bank account, including wages that are deposited there.  But they must first obtain a judgment against you in Court.

6.  Can a Credit Card Company Garnish my Bank Account?

Yes.  If a legal judgment has been entered against you, that creditor can garnish money in your bank accounts by obtaining a court order against your bank.  But for a few minor exceptions (i.e. statutory exemptions and Social Security income), all of the money in your accounts can be taken to pay off the judgment amount.  This includes your wages that are deposited to your account via "auto deposit"! 

7.  What should I do if I believe a collection agency has violated the law?

You should immediately report any problems you have with a debt collector to the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Clair M. Stewart is an attorney who is very experienced in the rights of creditors and debtors.  If you need help concerning a collection agency attempting to collect a debt from you, please contact us at 215-564-5150  or through our Legal Intake form.
2.  May a debt collector contact any person other than you concerning your debt?

If you have an attorney, the debt collector cannot contact anyone other than your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, a collector may contact other people, but only to find out where you live and work.   Collectors usually are prohibited from contacting such permissible third parties more than one.   In most cases, the collectors are prohibited from giving other people information about your debt, other than you and your attorney.

3.  What is the debt collector required to tell you about the debt?

Within five days after you are first contacted, the collector must send you a written notice telling you 1) the amount of money you owe; 2) the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and 3) what action to take if you believe you do not owe the money.

4.  May a debt collector continue to contact you if you believe you do not owe money?

A collector may not contact you if, within 30 days after you are first contacted, you send the collection agency a letter stating you do not owe money. However, a collector can renew collection activities if you are sent proof of the debt, such as a copy of a bill or credit card statement for the amount owed.