Today in our office, we are comparing two interesting articles recently published on garnishments and assessing their impact on Kentucky’s working class poor. The first piece was published this morning on Pro Publica: http://www.propublica.org/article/old-debts-fresh-pain-weak-laws-offer-debtors-little-protection. The piece points out that in the Midwest, “one in 16 workers earning between $25,000 and $40,000 had wages seized for a consumer debt in 2013” and that Congress’s failure to update a 1968 exemption for garnishments based on minimum wages is making it harder for these workers to make ends meet.
The second piece was published earlier this year by the Loyola Consumer Law Review, 26 Loy. Consumer L. Rev. 179, featuring a statistical analysis of 4,400 lawsuits filed by debt buyers in the state of Maryland. The article laments anecdotal evidence that “more than 95% of all collection cases end in a judgment in favor of the collector,” giving creditors the right to issue garnishments and wreak havoc on the working poor, as featured in the Pro-Publica piece.
We do not have statistical evidence in our office today regarding how many families in Kentucky are subject to garnishments. And we don’t know precisely how many collection cases in Kentucky District and Small Claims Courts end in default judgments. But our office’s own anecdotal evidence is the same as Loyola’s, and we think something should be done about it.
We have two points to make for you, after synthesizing these articles. First, if you have received a summons or have had your wages garnished, call us to see if we can help you. Second, something must be done to stop the steady stream of default judgments against unsuspecting consumers throughout Kentucky. Our office is always on the lookout for ways to better protect Kentucky consumers, and we will be taking an active lead on these issues in upcoming sessions of the Kentucky General Assembly.