Most of the time creditors need to file a lawsuit and obtain a judgment before garnishment of wages or levy of assets. One notable exception is a secured creditor who is able to repossess a car when you are delinquent on payments. Another is a bank you owe money to who is a holder of your account. Most of the time when you open a savings or checking account in the fine print states: “We have the right to a setoff.” Translation: if you owe us money and become delinquent we can simply take the money from your account without asking. This is why you should never have a bank hold your money if you are about to become delinquent on loans or credit cards issued by them.
If a creditor threatens to garnish your wages in North Carolina they are likely violating Fair Debt Collection Law. One caveat is creditors holding an out of state judgment against you who are able to garnish wages through that other state if your employer has assets or offices there. North Carolina is a very “debtor friendly” state with generous exemptions and protections for citizens, which induces creditors to seek creative methods around NC law. Bottom line- if you owe money consult with an attorney to see what can be done to protect your assets.