What Can Debt Collectors Really Touch and Take? Part II: Military Exemptions

Many things wait for military members at home including debts that were not paid prior to entering the military. As a military member, you do have some rights in regard to debts that you should know about. If collectors are calling you non-stop since you returned from duty, here’s what you can do about it.

It’s All About Timing

In order to be eligible for some debt relief, you must have entered active duty since the time you borrowed money. What does that mean? If you borrowed money before you enrolled in the military, you are eligible for the ‘Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act.’

The details of this act are intricate and will require that you hire a qualified attorney to determine how this law pertains to you, but here are the general details.

  • A court must first review your debt.
  • If a court finds that you did, in fact, enter active duty since you borrowed money, a few things can happen.
    • Collectors are limited regarding how they can collect debt from you.
    • Typically, repossessions, evictions, and foreclosures cannot apply to you.
    • The Fair Debt Collection Act might apply, but only applies to personal debts (credit cards, car loans, mortgages, etc.)
  • Be aware that debt collectors can contact people that you know. However, they can only try and obtain address information from those people. Collectors cannot discuss your debts with any third-party or leave a message about your debt on a public answering machine.

Wage Garnishment

Note that this information is an overview, and each State has its own rules so you will have to speak with an attorney about your specific case. That said, military pay is generally exempt from wage garnishment. This means that most debt collectors cannot garnish your pay that comes from the military - further, debt collectors cannot garnish any wages without first seeking a court order. In most states, any debt collector that threatens to garnish wages is not acting in accordance with the law.

The one exemption to the garnishment rule (in most cases) pertains to the IRS. The IRS does not need a court order to garnish wages, but, again, this depends on your particular case. Additional wage garnishment exemptions might exist if you are a member of the military, but it’s hard to determine whether or not these exemptions apply to you unless an attorney hears your individual case.

Basic Steps to Take

It is not uncommon for a debt collector to know when a military member has returned from active duty, so do not be surprised if the debt collection calls begin when you return.

Since it’s the last thing that you need after a long tour of duty, keep these basic steps in mind when debt collectors call.

  • Do not make any kind of agreement without consulting an attorney
  • Do not start to pay a debt unless you know that a statute of limitations has not passed in your state (every state is unique).
  • Do not give out your bank account or other personal financial information.
  • If a debt collector tries to contact a third-party to speak about your debt, make sure to call an attorney right away.

We can help you get out of debt and stop those collection calls if you are an active military member living in the state of Florida. Call the Dellutri Law Group today for your free case evaluation at (800) 391-4337 or visit our website to schedule.