aloha and welcome my name is Marty Berger a local attorney and the owner of hawaii debt solutions a federally recognized full-service debt relief agency so please note that this video was created specifically for hawaii residents and it is just general information is not to be taken as legal advice so today I’m going to talk to you about how to stop wage garnishments and bank seizures so what I’ll do on this video is I’ll tell you a little bit about this process because the process is actually a three-part process and what i did so you understand that this is actually the third part of a three video series so what I’ve done is I’ve explained the three different parts of the series and what it is just so you understand is that the first part is what i call the pre-litigation period and then there’s the litigation period and then there is the third stage which is the garnishments and bank seizures so you’re probably familiar with the first stage this is where you haven’t been sued but collection agents are calling you they’re they’re threatening to sue you now this is the time where if you have some money socked away or if you know you can make some installments now’s the time to make a deal you can make a deal while you’re in court at the litigation process but the time is really crunched up make you deal now if you can now you can either do this on your own or you can do it with some negotiator now if you are going to do this on your own please do not tell them do the best you can not to tell them who your employer is or where your bank accounts are they’re going to try to get that information from you because if you do that and you cannot work a deal with these people you just fast track the garnishment process okay now if you’re thinking about trying to find somebody who’s going to do this for you you might want to take a look at my video on how to hire a debt negotiator or consolidator and by the way if you want to stop the collection agent calls i also have a video that will show you how to stop the collection agent calls on your own you won’t need anybody for that okay let’s say you could not work a deal a pre-lawsuit so what’s going to happen is eventually you’re going to get sued you can still negotiate the problem here is that the court process moves along very quickly and so that is going to kind of put some pressure on the whole deal now if you want to apply a little more pressure and get a little more leverage what you can do is you can file a legal document called an answer what that basically says to the creditor is hey you got to prove that you owe me owe this money okay they don’t want to necessarily do that so that’ll give you a little bit of leverage at that point though if you cannot work a deal with these folks in all likelihood the judge is going to grant them a judgment it’s called and at that point once they get the judgment they can then go forward to the final and third stage which is the garnishment seizure stage at this point you’re really not going to know when this process is going to start it could happen in days weeks months it can happen even in years so what you really want to do is you want to get right on taking some action right away for instance creditors can seize bank accounts with the exception of actually a little bit of social security money they can take all the money that’s in your bank account it doesn’t matter if it’s a joint bank account so what you want to do right now is really think about your whole banking process in terms of how much money you want to keep in there how you want to handle everything the problem with the wage garnishment action is that you’re not going to know that you were garnished until the day that you get your paycheck and you see that it’s about 25 percent lighter and that there’s this little uh line item in your deductions and it’s going to say garnishment and that is because a creditor is not required by law to give you notice that they’re about to garnish your wages and they give the notice to your employer and your employer is immediately required to start deducting this money so how do you stop them basically if you’ve watched some of my videos before you know that i like to give people options on how to handle situations unfortunately in this situation there’s really only one solution and that is bankruptcy now bankruptcy is available to everyone really it doesn’t matter how much money you earn how many assets you have or who you owe the debt to once you file bankruptcy you get something known as an automatic stay what that is is it’s a court order that prevents your creditors from doing anything to try to get their money without getting permission from the court it’s very powerful it’s not going to just stop the garnishments it’s going to stop any collection agent calls but it’ll also stop lawsuits so really that’s about it I’ve told you about the process I’ve told you in depth about the garnishment and seizure procedure i’ve told you how to stop it and if you’d like a free no obligation consultation about your options feel free to give me a call you can email me you can fill out the little form on the site on this page here I’ve helped thousands of people over the last 25 years i suspect i can help you as well now there is one thing i do want to tell you and that is that as you guys know this covid crisis has really created a financial crisis for the folks here in hawaii so if you um if you know you have a problem you really should see somebody as soon as you can because all the qualified lawyers soon are going to be get really very busy and they may not be able to see everybody that they want to see so that’s it thanks and thanks for watching and have a great day
This video is the third video in a three part series. There are 3 parts to this series because there are basically three stages to the debt collection cycle. First there is the pre-lawsuit stage, then there is the lawsuit stage and then finally the wage garnishment and bank seizure stage.
Below I will give you a brief overview of the 3 stages, go into detail about the garnishment and seizure process and then explain how to stop the process.
Stage 1 – Pre-Lawsuit
In stage 1, you have not yet been sued yet. However, collection agents are probably calling and threatening to sue you. If you have money set aside or can pay a certain amount in installments, this is the best time to be negotiating a deal, because once you move to the lawsuit stage, your negotiating power is usually significantly weaker.
You can negotiate on your own or you can hire a negotiator or consolidator. If you are going to do it alone, please note that they may ask you for verification of your income, expenses, what you own and who you owe. You may want to consider whether it is a good idea to give them the names of either your bank or your employer. If you do, and you cannot work a deal, they will go directly to these places as soon they are ready to garnish and seize, giving you no time to take protective measures.
By the way, if you want these collection agents to stop calling you, you should watch my video titled “How to Stop Collection Agent Calls.” It will show you how to stop them without the need of a lawyer.
Stage 2 – Lawsuit
If you are not able to work out a deal, eventually you will likely move on to stage 2 where the creditor sues you. Once you are sued, you can still negotiate but because of the speed of the court process, you won’t have much time to do so.
If you want to increase your chances of settling at this point, you or a lawyer you hire will want to timely file a legal document called an “Answer” which basically tells the creditor that they have to prove that you owe all this money. Creditors do not want to go to court so this will be your best last chance to negotiate a deal.
And please, if you want to force them to prove it, do not miss your court date!
If you were not able to resolve anything at this point, the court will usually grant the creditor a judgment against you, which means that the creditor is now able to garnish and seize, which brings us to stage 3.
Stage 3 – Wage garnishment and Bank Seizure
Unfortunately, you will never know when they will start the garnishment or seizures. It could be days, weeks, months or even occasionally years.
With respect to garnishment, usually the first sign you will have that you are being garnished is that your paycheck will be smaller and there will be a new line item in the deduction section of your paycheck that says “garnishment”.
This is because your employer will get notice of the garnishment before you do and your employer is legally obligated to deduct the garnishment immediately. The creditor will send 2 copies of the wage garnishment order, one for your employer and one that the employer is to give to you.
Under Hawaii law, the wage garnishment will be approximately 25 percent of your after tax income.
Social Security payments are not subject to wage garnishment.
At this point, short of quitting your job, there is almost nothing you or your employer can do to stop the garnishment.
With respect to bank accounts, just like wage garnishment, the money can be seized without your knowledge.
A creditor can take all of the money in your account, even if it is a joint bank account.
Please note though that while most social security payments deposited in bank accounts cannot be seized, there are limitations to this so do some more research or talk to an expert.
A final word about bank seizures. Now that you know what creditors can do, you will want to determine how you are going to handle your banking way in advance of the seizure stage.
How to stop the garnishments and seizures
If you have watched any of my other videos, you will know that I like to offer different options on how to deal with a particular debt problem. Unfortunately, that is not the case here.
You can try to talk to the creditor and convince him that you will pay the debt in installments but in my experience, once the creditor is at the wage garnishment stage, that is not going to work. You will find that the only way to convince him to stop is to agree to pay him in full immediately.
The only truly effective way to stop the losses is to file bankruptcy. Contrary to popular belief, bankruptcy is an option available to everyone no matter how much debt you owe, how much money you earn or how many assets you own. And while there are different bankruptcy options, the one thing they all have in common is that they will stop the garnishments and seizures immediately.
That is because when you file for bankruptcy, you are granted a powerful legal tool called an automatic stay, which is a court order that prevents most creditors from trying to get any money from you without permission from the court. So not only will the garnishment stop, but so will any collection calls and letters. It will even stop any lawsuits.
So there you have it – an overview of the entire debt collection lifecycle, a detailed description of the garnishment and seizure process and the solution to stopping the garnishment and seizures.
If you would like a free no obligation consultation to learn about all of your debt relief options, or would just like to ask me a question, feel free to call me, email me, or fill out the questionnaire on this page.
Finally, as you know, the Covid crisis has created a financial crisis for many local people. As a result, soon all of the qualified lawyers in town are going to be very busy and may not have time to help everyone they want to help, so if you know you’re in trouble I urge you to talk to someone as soon as you can.
Thanks and have a great day.