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New Jersey consumers may need debt relief around holiday season

The holidays tend to be the most stressful time of year for a number of reasons, not the least of which is finances. Most people want to give their family, friends and loved ones a wonderful holiday but, in doing so, may end up with unplanned credit card debt. New Jersey residents may unexpectedly find themselves in need of debt relief when suddenly faced with unpleasant issues such as wage garnishment or collection calls.

When they find themselves pestered by phone calls from debt collectors, consumers may find it helpful to remember that third-party collection agencies are limited regarding when and where they are legally allowed to make contact. If an employee's company policy prohibits personal calls at work, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits collectors from calling the individual there. Unfortunately, though, this policy does not apply to organizations trying to collect on their own debts, only to collection agencies.

Wage garnishment is another issue an individual with unpaid credit card debt may encounter. This approach requires creditors to obtain a court order to take money directly out of a consumer's paycheck. The Consumer Credit Protection Act does restrict garnishments to 25 percent of disposable earnings, which includes the amount left over after obligatory legal deductions such as Social Security and taxes. There are also laws which vary from state to state that stipulate how much the remaining total must equal for this to apply. For example, federal law requires that remaining income must equal at least $217.50 per week to qualify for wage garnishment, and some states further restrict that amount. 

Any New Jersey residents who find themselves facing wage garnishment or experiencing financial struggles during the holidays could benefit from seeking the counsel of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. An attorney's knowledge in these matters can help with much needed debt relief and peace of mind at an already stressful time of year. Skilled legal guidance may provide the best chance at starting the new year off with a clean financial state.

Source: bizjournals.com, "Consequences of Black Friday debt: Collection calls, wage garnishment", Ed Zalewski, Nov. 28, 2016

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