What are my rights regarding a debt default notice? 14 Answers as of June 07, 2011

I received a notice from our county circuit court saying that "an order for default was entered on 05/17/2011. This is regarding a judgment Discover Card obtained against us for a debt we owe them in the amount of $12,262. My question is, can Discover Card garnish my government pension retirement income and Social Security Income, which is the only income I have, and can they freeze my checking account? We can't afford to file for bankruptcy yet.

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Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
The actions that a Creditor can take to collect a debt do include freezing your Bank Account so you should take necessary steps to ensure that you have funds available to you in cash to continue to live on - for example: do not have your social security or pension automatically deposit into the Bank if you are concerned about them seizing your account. Social Security cannot ordinarily be garnished but once it enters your bank account it becomes ordinary funds and can be seized.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 6/7/2011
Dearbonn Law Offices
Dearbonn Law Offices | Ajibola Oluyemisi Oladapo
With the judgment, they may garnish any form of income they can get a hold on.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/6/2011
Jackson White, PC
Jackson White, PC | Spencer Hale
If you live in AZ then creditors can not touch the money in your pension. However, once the money is taken out of your pension and put into your bank account the creditors can seize the money from your bank account. Your social security money on the other hand is protected even after you put it into your bank account. The catch is you need to be able to prove that all the money in the bank account is from social security. It is a good idea then to have two bank accounts. One for social security and the other for the pension deposits.
Answer Applies to: Arizona
Replied: 6/6/2011
Law Office of Harry L Styron
Law Office of Harry L Styron | Harry L Styron
It is not clear to me that you are in California, because there is no such think as a "county circuit court" in California. The following applies only to California: Public pension benefits of state and local entities (but not the U.S.) and Social Security benefits, even after deposit into a bank account, are exempt from execution, except in the case of domestic support obligations. If there is a levy on your bank account, you should receive notice from the county Sheriff, and at that point you can file a claim of exemption with the Sheriff.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/6/2011
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC | Christopher J. Mercado
Retirement Funds & SSI are likely exempt from garnishment.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/6/2011
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley | Maureen O'Malley
    This depends on your state as much as anything. Discover has now obtained judgment and can take all legal means allowed in order to collect. Social Security is not usually subject to garnishment, but banks won't tend to distinguish unless those funds are in a separate account. Money that has been garnished can be returned to you if you file bankruptcy on time. You may want to check with a lawyer in your area.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc.
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc. | David VanDyke
    The default notice will result in a judgment that can be used by the creditor to do a variety of things. These will include levying on bank accounts, creating liens against real property, attaching wages and a lot of other evil things. It really cannot just be ignored. If you only have retirement and social security income, this type of income is generally not attachable. In other words the creditor cannot satisfy their judgment with this type of property. however, the problem that retired people often run into is that even though your income is not attachable the creditor will try to get it anyway by levying on your bank account. The only notice you will receive that this is occurring will be a letter from your bank indicating that your accounts are frozen and being levied upon by a judgment creditor. You will have a short period of time usually 10 days) to prove that the the money in your bank account is not attachable. Once this occurs you cannot take your money out of the bank until you prove the frozen funds are exempt. Because of this short period of time sometimes they get the money anyway. Also if you own a home you do not want the creditor to record this judgment as a lien against your home. This lien can usually be removed through BK but it makes your case more difficult and more costly. I will usually give a big discount for retirees on a fixed income and I think most attorneys will do the same. I hope this info has helped you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
    Social security is exempt under federal law, and depending on what type of pension you have, it may, too, be fully exempt from execution in satisfaction of the judgment. That doesn't mean that they can't freeze your bank account and create a hassle in withholding your funds from you until the status of the funds and the exemptions is hashed out in court.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    They can not garnish the social security. They can garnish the pension but they might not be clever enough to do so. And, yes they can levy on your checking account if they know where you bank. If there are social security funds in the account they levy on you can get that back, but it takes time. Get another account now.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed | Robert Weed
    They can't garnish the government checks. they cannot hit the social security that's in your bank account. They can get to the government pension that's in your bank account.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/6/2011
    Daniel Hoarfrost, Attorney at Law
    Daniel Hoarfrost, Attorney at Law | Daniel Hoarfrost
    Pension income and social security are not subject to garnishment.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You have already waited WAY too long to get a lawyer. You have just lost a lawsuit. The next step usually is to see someone try to grab your bank accounts and income. While social security cannot be seized, other things can, including many pensions. See a bankruptcy lawyer - yesterday. You have an emergency.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Ursula G. Barrios Law
    Ursula G. Barrios Law | Guillermo Machado
    They can't garnish your social security but that judgment is powerful and the creditor has rights to collect and levy bank accounts until you file BK.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    California Code of Civil Procedure, Chapter 5, Article 3 lists exempt property. Public and private retirement and social security benefits are exempt (CCP 740.080).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/3/2011
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