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We're the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.

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What is a garnishment?

Answer:

A wage or bank account garnishment occurs when a creditor takes a portion of your paycheck or money from your bank account to collect a debt.

Most garnishments are by court orders after a judgment. Certain debts owed to the federal government, such as to the IRS, may result in a garnishment without a court order. 

State and federal laws have limits or “exemptions” that apply to bank account and wage garnishments, usually to make sure you have something left to live on. Some states do not allow wage garnishments for certain kinds of debt. It is also a violation of federal law, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), for a debt collector to threaten that your wages will be garnished if your wages cannot legally be garnished.

If your bank account or wages are garnished, you may want to consult with a lawyer.

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