As a creditor in Georgia, and especially one experiencing delinquent debts, your first objective is to pursue any legal means to obtain satisfaction of the debt owed to you.
There are many ways for creditors to collect this delinquent debt, with varying degrees of difficulty, all of which depend on how hard the debtor intends to fight payment.
The easiest and most commonly adopted approach involves the use of a qualified attorney or debt collection agent. This individual or entity will begin by sending either a demand letter or otherwise attempting to contact the delinquent debtor to amicably resolve the debt and get the creditor paid. Unfortunately, this approach has mixed success.
More common in Commercial debt collection matters, due to the sophistication of parties, and contractual nature of the agreements, the creditor must go to court and receive judgement on delinquent debt in their favor, which then entitles them to act in regards to compel payment. This judgement is a declaration by the court that the debt is valid, and the creditor can now seek to enforce the debt.
The most common tool used by these newly appointed “Judgement-Creditors” is Garnishment. Georgia Garnishment Law is found in Title 18 Chapter 4 Article 4 of the Georgia Code, and follows the federal rules generally. Specifics on the process can be found in OCGA 18-4-4 which outlines the process and period of Garnishments in the state. There are two ways to enact a garnishment on a delinquent debt once judgment has been granted or the debt otherwise perfected.
The most common of these is a Summons of Garnishment, or simply a bank garnishment. If a bank is served with this garnishment, they must immediately place a hold on the debtors account and may to the court all funds on deposit at the time of service, plus any additional funds that may be deposited into the account within the next 30 days. After this thirty-day period, the garnishment is no longer in place.
Although less common, Georgia also allows the perfected creditor to garnish a debtor’s wages by way of a Continuing Garnishment. After receiving service of a Continuing Garnishment, the employer of the delinquent debtor must pay into the court 25% of the debtor’s net take home pay. This garnishment remains in place for the lesser of 180 days or the full extent of the debt has been satisfied. Georgia also allows for renewal of this garnishment, but it must be again filed with the court.
Garnishments are generally filed in the Magistrate Court in the county for which the garnishee is physically located. Costs may vary county to county, but are typically around $50 for filing, plus the cost for summons of service.
If you have questions regarding a delinquent debt of any kind and are at a loss for how to move forward with collecting it, let us help! Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys are qualified in the State of Georgia to collect debts on behalf of their clients. Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you and your organization collect on your receivables and delinquent debts.