If someone owes you a debt but refuses to pay, there are things you can do to collect that debt.

  • If you know that the debtor has a steady income, you can garnish the debtor’s wages.
  • If you don’t know if the debtor is employed, you can follow legal procedures for debt collection and obtain a judgment. Next ask the court to order the debtor to tell you about his or her assets and liabilities, including income.

Once you find out what the debtor has, you might be able to garnish wages or a bank account.

First, Serve Required Notices on the Debtor

In order to garnish the wages of a debtor, you must serve the debtor with a Garnishment Exemption Notice and Notice of Intent to Garnish Earnings upon the debtor at least 10 days before attempting to garnish wages.

You may serve this personally upon the debtor or by mail.

A sample of the requirements in Minnesota for this Notice may be found in Minnesota Statute 571.925 or online at http://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=571.925#stat.571.925.

This notice is valid for one year. If one year expires before you garnish wages, you must start the process over and give notice again.

There may be disputes between you and the debtor regarding what is exempt from garnishment. If the debtor claims exemptions which you dispute, you will need to address this in court.

Second, Serve the Employer with a Summons and Disclosure Form

If there is no dispute over exemptions, in order to proceed with garnishment, you will need to serve the debtor’s employer with a Garnishment Summons and Disclosure Form.

You also must provide the employer with $15.00 at this time. This minimal amount may change over the course of time, so make sure you are aware of the current amount at the time you proceed.

In Minnesota, an example of a Garnishment Summons may be found in Minnesota Statute 571.74 or online at http://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=571.74.

You must also add the language, “This is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information obtained will be used for that purpose,” pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act requirements under section 332.37(12).

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act has other requirements to protect debtors from harassment or other unethical behavior. One example is the requirement that debt collectors not threaten debtors with action that is not legal for the creditor to take.

You must mail to the debtor a copy of the Garnishment Summons and Earnings Garnishment Disclosure Form that you served on the debtor’s employer, within 5 days of service on the employer.

Third, Serve the Debtor with Another Notice

You must also serve the debtor with a Notice to Debtor in no less than 14-point font.

An example Notice to Debtor may be found in Minnesota Statute 571.74 or online at http://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=571.74.