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Missouri Collection Laws

What rights do creditors have under Missouri law to collect debts from consumers?

I need to learn how a collection agent can get a judgment from me. I live in Missouri.

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A collection agent or law firm that owns a collection account is a creditor. A creditor has several legal means of collecting a debt. But before the creditor can start, the creditor must go to court to receive a judgment. See the Bills.com resource Served Summons and Complaint to learn more about this process.

The court may decide to grant a judgment to the creditor. A judgment is a declaration by a court that the creditor has the legal right to demand a wage garnishment, a levy on the debtor's bank accounts, and a lien on the debtor's property. A creditor that is granted a judgment is called a "judgment-creditor." Which of these tools the creditor will use depends on the circumstances. We discuss each of these remedies below.

Missouri Wage Garnishment

The most common method used by judgment-creditors to enforce judgments is wage garnishment. A judgment-creditor contacts your employer and requires the employer to deduct a certain portion of your wages each pay period and send the money to the creditor.

In most states, creditors may garnish between 10% and 25% of your wages, with the percentage allowed determined by state law. Garnishment of Social Security benefits or pensions for consumer debt is not allowed under federal law, but may be allowed for child support. See the Bills.com Wage Garnishment article to learn more.
Collection agents violate the FDCPA if they file a debt collection lawsuit against a consumer after the statute of limitation expired (Kimber v. Federal Financial Corp. 668 F.Supp. 1480 (1987) and Basile v. Blatt, Hasenmiller, Liebsker & Moore LLC, 632 F. Supp. 2d 842, 845 (2009)). Unscrupulous collection agents sue in hopes the consumer will not know this rule.

Missouri Payday Loan

See the Bills.com resource Missouri Payday Loan to learn more about the rights consumers in Missouri have regarding payday loans, and options for resolving them.

Recommendation

Consult with an Missouri attorney experienced in civil litigation to get precise answers to your questions about liens, levies, and garnishment in Missouri.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

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  • DW
    Jan, 2015
    David
    Do I have any recourse if a settlement was made between my debt relief agency (FDR) and the lawyers retained by the debtor filing suit against me reached that settlement 8 days before my court date, was sent the check 3 days before my court date but I still received a judgement? Thank You!!
    0 Votes

    • DC
      Jan, 2015
      Daniel
      I can’t give you legal advice, as only a lawyer can properly do so. I will share my opinion with you, though. When the start of a settlement is so close to a court date, the law firm does not always have an opportunity to cancel a court date. Sometimes, they may even proceed with the court date for the sole purpose of obtaining judgment while the settlement in place. The language of a settlement will generally preclude a creditor from proceeding with judgment execution, but the judgment serves as recourse for the creditor in the event that a settlement fails. From the law firm’s perspective, this debt has been defaulted before; they would like some means of collecting if it happens again. Once the settlement completes, the law firm will file a satisfaction of judgment.
      0 Votes

  • JE
    Aug, 2013
    Jerry
    In May 2012, I suffered extensive medical problems which left me permanently and totally disabled, as determined by Missouri Department of Social Service (Medicaid), and by Social Security Administration Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. I am expecting to get my first SSI payment in September 2013. I now have a credit card company that has filed a lawsuit for $3800 I owe. I believe they cannot take my SSI money, but can they take my only vehicle ($2500.00 value)? I have to have this vehicle to have someone take me for medical treatments and doctor visits. I have no money to hire an attorney. Is there anything I can do? Thanks for your site! Thank you!
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Aug, 2013
      Bill
      I am not a lawyer, so I can't give you legal advice, but I will share some information with you. Please do not take it as legal advice.

      Missouri has a vehicle exemption of $1,000. Technically, I believe that it is theoretically possible for a judgment-creditor to force a sale of an asset, with the exempt amount remaining with the judgment-debtor and the rest going to the creditor. However, I do not believe that this is likely. It is important that you go to court, if you are sued, to explain your situation to the judge. I would be quite surprised if a person living on SSI would be forced to sell a low-value vehicle.

      I recommend that you see if there is any free legal aid available. I did a quick search online for "legal aid Missouri," and see a number of organizations in various parts of Missouri. Find the one for the region in which you live and give them a call.
      0 Votes

  • PH
    May, 2013
    pamela
    Let's say I have a wage garnishment in Missouri. If I move to North Carolina, can the judgment-creditor still garnish my wages? North Carolina supposedly doesn't allow wage garnishment on most judgments.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      May, 2013
      Bill
      North Carolina's wage garnishment law is a bit tricky. Generally, yes, North Carolina law does not allow wage garnishment. However, there's a big loophole in the law. Here's what Cherie Berrie, the Commissioner of Labor at the North Carolina Department of Labor wrote about this exception:
      While the North Carolina courts are not permitted to garnish wages based on these debts, creditors in other states may be able to get an order of garnishment under their own states' laws. It is not a violation of the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act for an employer to withhold an employee’s wages if required to do so by law. If a court from another state issues a valid order under that state's laws requiring an employer to withhold a North Carolina employee’s wages for payment of a debt, the employer does not violate the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act by obeying that order.
      Therefore, a judgment-creditor who received a judgment from a Missouri court will likely be able to enforce a wage garnishment order if you become a North Carolina resident.
      0 Votes

  • KM
    May, 2013
    Katrina
    My boyfriend and I share a joint checking account. Yesterday I got my taxes and since he had a garnishment with a credit card they wiped out our checking account and savings. I want to know if since the garnishment was in his name and the tax money they took was in my name, is it legal for them to do this or is there a way to get my money back. We have been told different stories that there is something I can do about it and others including the people who took the money saying there is nothing I can do about it. Is there any legal action I can take to try to get my taxes back since I filed separately from him.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      May, 2013
      Bill
      Under all state laws I am aware of, joint accounts have no special protection from creditors who have a valid judgment against one of the account holders. Even in terrible circumstances like you described, a judgment-creditor can ask your bank or credit union to garnish/levy your joint account.

      However, some state legislatures wrote laws exempting a certain amount from account garnishment/levy. You mentioned Missouri. Consult with a Missouri lawyer who has consumer law experience. Ask him or her about Missouri Revised Statute Section 513.430, and if your tax refund fits any of the exemptions listed there, or elsewhere in Missouri law.

      One last thought: Do not expect creditors to offer you accurate or complete legal advice. A Missouri lawyer of your choosing will advise you of your rights and liabilities.
      0 Votes

  • DW
    Mar, 2013
    Deb
    I had a judgement against me and I began paying May 2012. I had a home emergency and told my attorney I would have to miss some payments. He said he would inform the creditor/collection agency. My attorney has since passed away; the collection agency wiped out my checking and savings accounts. They say they cannot speak to me about the account because I have legal counsel...I don't. They told me to prove he is deceased; I sent them the obituary. Now they want me to prove he was a solo attorney (which he was). I can't prove it because he firm was closed. The collection agency won't talk to me.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Mar, 2013
      Bill
      Call the Missouri Bar Association and explain your situation. It is likely the Bar assumed custody of your lawyer's files when he passed away, and may either have possession of your files or assigned them to another lawyer. Proceed accordingly. If the Bar still has your files, ask the Bar to send the creditor a letter explaining your lawyer died, they possess your file, and that you are not represented to the best of their knowledge.

      As an aside, the collection agent is being pedantic unnecessarily. If you can show your lawyer's dead, and you send the collection agent a statement that promises, "I am not represented by any lawyer," they should drop their objection to speak to you.
      0 Votes