Page 16 - Minnesota Vol 8 No 5
P. 16

LEGAL AID HELPS CONSUMERS WEATHER THE STORM
BY LEYKN SCHMATZ
Shawneise, a mother of two, relies on wages from her full-time job to cover bills. Last No- vember, on the weekend she planned to shop for Christmas gifts for her children, her pay-
Scheck was over $300 short.
hawneise has a credit card debt from 2003.  e original debt was around $200, but it has grown to over $2,000. Shawneise pays on the debt when she can and has been wrangling with the debt collecting law  rm and staving o  garnishment for years.  is time, her check was garnished. She called Legal
Aid for help.
“ e intake person was great,” Shawneise says. “I was a nervous
wreck, and so frustrated. I had nowhere else to turn. She took down all of my information, and then Al called me back and we got the ball rolling.”
Al Ditamo is a sta  attorney with Legal Aid’s Consumer Protection unit. He has seen many clients in the same predicament as Shawneise. “Credit cards have a contract that says if you default, you will owe penalties, interest, and possible attorney fees,” says Ditamo. “Once an attorney gets involved,  ling fees and attorney fees can bury a person
in debt.”
 e law says that if a person has received government assistance
based on need within the past six months, their salary or earnings and deposits cannot be garnished. Shawneise’s children receive free/ reduced school lunches. Although Shawneise was aware of the exemp- tion law, she was unaware that school lunches were a possible exemp- tion.  e law  rm that was collecting the debt was also unaware.
ATTORNEY AT LAW MAGAZINE · MINNESOTA· VOL. 8 NO. 5 16


































































































   14   15   16   17   18