Can a creditor take my entire pay cheque to satisfy a debt?
No. The law in BC says a creditor can garnish up to 30% of a debtor’s net income. This means you’d keep at least 70% of your pay cheque. However, if a creditor’s claim is for spousal or child support payments, they can garnish up to 50%.
You can apply to court for an order allowing you to protect more than 70% of your wages from garnishment. You need to present evidence to a judge that you or your family are suffering financial hardship. The process is similar to that described under “Deal with the problem”, above.
Can a creditor take money from my bank account without telling me?
Yes. A creditor can apply for an order to garnish your bank account without notifying you. The creditor doesn’t need to have a judgment against you to do so.
The creditor must start a lawsuit against you for the debt before getting a garnishing order. Often, creditors will start a lawsuit and apply for a garnishing order at the same time. So you might not know about the garnishing order until you’re served with the legal paperwork.
Money that’s garnished from a bank account is paid into court. The creditor can’t access the money until they get a judgment against you.
I receive income assistance payments. Can my creditors take this money?
Typically, no. The law in BC protects income assistance and hardship assistance payments from garnishment. However, some government agencies, such as the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, are able to garnish these types of benefits.
See the “Understand your legal rights” section above.