A debt collector can garnish bank accounts and wages, but the timing is very important. For instance, if they tell you that they can do that this week, that's not usually accurate. They have to file a lawsuit first, they have to get a judgment, that could take many months or even years. It is a violation of the consumer protection laws if they tell you they can do that by Friday, and warn you that you might not be able to put food on the table next week. That's usually a violation of the FTCPA and the FCCPA because it impounds a sense of urgency that really doesn't exist because, in truth, they have to file a lawsuit, they have to get a judgment. They can't do much of anything before they do those things.