Mississippi's Rules For Garnishment, Liens, Foreclosure & More
If you owe debt and reside in Mississippi, it’s important to understand your rights and liabilities. It is even more important if a creditor threatens to file a lawsuit against you.
A lender, collection agent or law firm that owns a collection account is a creditor. Mississippi law gives creditors several means of collecting delinquent debt from you.
Before a creditor may use these legal tools in Mississippi, the creditor must go to court to receive a judgment against you. See the Bills.com article Served Summons and Complaint to learn more about this process, and how to fight a lawsuit.
A court will hold a hearing after a creditor files a lawsuit. A hearing may result in a judgment awarded to the creditor. A judgment is a court’s declaration the creditor has the legal right to demand:
Lien on real property
Seize personal property
The laws calls these remedies. A creditor granted a judgment is called a judgment-creditor. Which tool a judgment-creditor may use depends on the circumstances and Mississippi law. We discuss each of these remedies below.
Mississippi Wage Garnishment Rules
The most common method used by judgment-creditors to enforce judgments is wage garnishment. A judgment-creditor contacts your employer and requires the employer to deduct a certain portion of your wages each pay period and send the money to the creditor.
Mississippi law limits the amount of money that your creditors can take from your wages to pay a debt. Under federal and Mississippi law, most creditors with judgments can take up to 25% of your wages. Mississippi law prevents creditors from garnishing wages for the first 30 days after a court orders a garnishment.
Some creditors, such as the IRS and state authorities collecting child support, can garnish more than 25%. The state-allowed maximum for child support is 65% (MCA § 85-3-4(3)(b)). The IRS and US Dept. of Education can garnish your wages administratively, which means they can do so without obtaining a judgment against you first.
You may be able to claim an exemption from a garnishment in Mississippi (MCA § 11-35-33 and § 85-3). Mississippi wage garnishment laws are found in MCA § 11-35 and § 85-3-4(2)(a)(i-ii).
Levy Bank Accounts in Mississippi
Mississippi law calls account levy "bank garnishment." A bank garnishment seizes all funds available to the bank as long as it is clear that the funds belong to the consumer and are not Social Security or a similar federal benefit. Your bank or credit union that receives a bank garnishment will freeze the account for 30 days from the date they receive the garnishment.
Some funds deposited in a bank or credit union may be exempt from bank garnishment. For example, residents over the age of 70 may exempt up to $50,000 in any financial account. See MCA § 85-3-1 for a list of exemptions.
In Mississippi, a judgment lien can be attached to the real estate the debtor owns, including a house, condo, land, or similar kind of property interest. Miussissippi also allow judgment liens on the debtor’s personal property, including jewelry, art, antiques, and other valuables. (See MCA § 11-7-189 to 197 and § 15-1-43)
Liens are subject to Mississippi’s many exemptions. See MCA § 85-3-1 for a list of exemptions.
A Mississippi judgment lien remains attached to the debtor’s property (even if the property changes hands) for 7 years.
Wisconsin and Mississippi outlaw lawsuits against consumers in cases where those state statutes of limitation have passed. Wisconsin and Mississippi are the only exceptions to the “lawsuits are allowed for original creditors even if the statute of limitations expired” rule.
Mississippi Statute of Limitations
Each state has its own statute of limitations on civil matters.
The statute of limitation clock starts when the contract is breached. Typically, this means 30 days after the date of the last full payment.
In Mississippi, a creditor loses the right to file a lawsuit upon expiration of the statute of limitations clock. “The completion of the period of limitation prescribed to bar any action shall defeat and extinguish the right as well as the remedy.” MCA § 15-1-3. Furthermore, collection agents violate the federal FDCPA if they file a debt collection lawsuit against a consumer after the statute of limitation expired (Kimber v. Federal Financial Corp. 668 F.Supp. 1480 (1987) and Basile v. Blatt, Hasenmiller, Liebsker & Moore LLC, 632 F. Supp. 2d 842, 845 (2009)). Unscrupulous collection agents sue in hopes the consumer will not know this rule.
If you reside in Mississippi and a collection agent files a lawsuit against you on expired debt, consult with a lawyer immediately because the collection agent is in violation of Mississippi and federal law.
The most common type of foreclosure in Mississippi is non-judicial. This means the foreclosure timeline can be relatively short — 90 days is the minimum in Mississippi.
Mississippi law allows the lender to file a lawsuit to collect any deficiency balance. It must file for judgment within 1 year of foreclosure. If the lender bids at the foreclosure sale, the bid must be reasonable (see MCA § 89-1-305).
Learn more about Mississippi foreclosure law by reading the state statutes at MCA § 89-1-55 to 89-1-59.
Mississippi Collection Laws Recommendation
Consult with a Mississippi lawyer who is experienced in civil litigation to get precise answers to your questions about liens, levies, garnishment, and foreclosure. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Mississippi Legal Services or another Mississippi pro bono program to find no- or low-cost legal service.