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.
The most common method used by judgment-creditors to enforce judgments is wage garnishment, in which a judgment creditor would contact the debtor's employer and require the employer to deduct a certain portion of the debtor's wages each pay period and send the money to the creditor. However, several states, including Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina, do not allow wage garnishment for the enforcement of most judgments. In several other states, such as New Hampshire, wage garnishment is not the "preferred" method of judgment enforcement because, although possible, it is a tedious and time consuming process for creditors.
In most states, creditors are allowed to garnish between 10% and 25% of your wages, with the percentage allowed being determined by each state.
Garnishment of Social Security benefits or pensions for consumer debt is not allowed under federal law. In Nevada, garnishment for child support MUST be given first priority as noted in NRS 31.249 Application to court for writ of garnishment. And, wage garnishment for child or spousal support may be as much as 50% allowable (see #4(a) under NRS 31.295).
In Nevada, wage garnishment is allowed under NRS 31.240, a Writ of garnishment may issue at time of issuance of writ of attachment or later. If the judgment-creditor is aware of the debtor's place of employment, it may seek wage garnishment.
Under federal law, the garnishment applies to 25% of the debtor's net take home pay, (i.e. gross pay less statutorily mandated deductions). Garnishment can occur only after the person being garnished has received a 10-day's notice. Additional exceptions to the limitations on wage garnishment in Nevada may be found under NRS 31.295.
If you reside in another state, see the Bills.com Wage Garnishment article to learn more.
Levy Bank Accounts
A levy means that the creditor has the right to take whatever money in a debtor's account and apply the funds to the balance of the judgment. Again, the procedure for levying bank accounts, as well as what amount, if any, a debtor can claim as exempt from the levy, is governed by state law. Many states exempt certain amounts and certain types of funds from bank levies, so a debtor should review his or her state's laws to find if a bank account can be levied. Some states call levy attachment or garnishment.
In Nevada, levy is allowed under Chapter 31 - Attachment, garnishment and other extraordinary remedies NRS 31. The collection of monies by attaching or levying bank accounts is described under NRS 104A.4101 Funds transfers.
If you reside in another state, see the Bills.com Account Levy resource to learn more about the general rules for this remedy.
A lien is an encumbrance — a claim — on a property. For example, if the debtor owns a home, a creditor with a judgment has the right to place a lien on the home, meaning that if the debtor sells or refinances the home, the debtor will be required to pay the judgment out of the proceeds of the sale or refinance. If the amount of the judgment is more than the amount of equity in your home, then the lien may prevent the debtor from selling or refinancing until the debtor can pay off the judgment.
Under Nevada statute, liens against a debtor are allowed. For more information on the types of liens allowable under Nevada law, please refer to Chapter 108 - Statutory Liens.
If you reside in another state, see the Bills.com Liens & How to Resolve Them article to learn more.
Statute of Limitations
Each state has its own statute of limitations. Under Nevada state law, there are several statutes of limitations:
- Notes Payable (credit cards) NRS 104.3118: Statute of limitations is 6 years.
- Consumer Lease NRS 104A.2506: Statute of limitations is 4 years.
- Warranties NRS 116.4116: Statute of limitations is 6 years.
- Debt-Management Services, (effective July 1, 2010), NRS 676A.780: Statute of limitations is 4 years.
Nevada Mortgage Foreclosure
If you are at risk for foreclosure, check out the State of Nevada's Hardest Hit Fund page. Nevada Chapter 1-7 — Deeds of Trust governs foreclosure and deficiency balances. Under Nevada law, the lender may recover any deficiency balance. However, if your servicer participates in the HAFA program, then it is barred from collecting a deficiency balance.
Nevada offers simple and effective foreclosure mediation for distressed homeowners who face foreclosure. See the State of Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program (FMP) pages at the Supreme Court of Nevada's Web site for details. If you receive a Notice of Default (NOD), consult with a Nevada lawyer who has experience with FMP. Eligible homeowners have 30 days after receiving a NOD to request mediation. At minimum, working within the FMP puts a hold on foreclosure during the mediation process. Homeowners in the FMP are advised to continue to pay their property taxes and insurance.
Consult with an attorney licensed in Nevada and experienced in civil litigation to get precise answers to your questions about liens, levies, and garnishment in Nevada.
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