Garnishing wages or other income for medical debt

by anne
(bellmawr New Jersey,USA)

I just recei ved a call from a collection agency in reference to a bill from a hospital surgery i had 8 years ago I was not aware this debt was out there they say they have notified me before not true can they garnish my bank account or my pension or my social security

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Oct 31, 2010
Garnishment for medical debt
by: Mary

Thanks for submitting your debt collection question on our Q&A page.

Before a debt collector can garnish your wages, it must sue you and win a judgment against you. (Note: If the collector were to win its lawsuit it would not be legally entitled to take your Social Security payments or your pension income.) However, my information shows that the statute of limitations on unpaid medical debt in Jew Jersey is 6 years. Therefore, given that your debt is 8 years old the statute of limitations on the debt has expired and the the debt collector is NOT entitled to sue you for the money it says you owe. As a result, you are not in jeopardy of having your wages garnished. However, the collector is legally entitled to continue contacting you about the money it says you owe, but you have the right under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to send the collector a cease contact letter. Once the collector receives your letter, it cannot contact you again. Here is my advice on using a cease and desist letter to stop a debt collector.

Before you send a cease contact letter to the debt collector however, I strongly recommend that you confirm my information regarding the NJ statute of limitations for medical debt by contacting a consumer law attorney in your area who helps consumers with debt collection issues or by contacting your state attorney general's office. This is because states periodically change the statute of limitations on certain kinds of debt and so my information may not be up-to-date.

Please share what happens with your situation in the comments section for this question. We are very interested in hearing how this turns out for you, and your experience can help others who are struggling with debt collectors.

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