If someone claims that you owe them money, they can go to court and bring a lawsuit against you. If the person or company, called a creditor, wins the case, the court will give them a judgment against you. A judgment is a court order stating how much you owe to the creditor.
A creditor can use this judgment to collect money from your wages or bank account through a process called garnishment. Garnishment involves a creditor collecting the judgment out of your wages or bank account. The creditor can use one of 2 methods to collect money from a bank account:
Some types of money cannot be garnished, like Social Security. You can also protect a certain amount of your money and property from debt collection. This is called claiming an exemption. If all of your money and property is protected, you are called collection-proof or judgment-proof.
Updated: July 2017