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I can't pay my credit card bill. Will I go to jail?

The United States did away with debtors' prisons a long time ago. So the short answer to your question is, no, you will not go to prison if you fail to pay your credit card bill.

That said, some not-so-nice things will happen to you and your financial situation if you fail to pay your bills. Let's take a closer look at these consequences.

What happens if you don't pay your credit card bills?

Although debtor's prisons don't exist in our country anymore, credit card companies -- and the debt collection agencies to which they sell your debt -- can file lawsuits to collect the money that you owe them.

If the plaintiffs win a judgment against you in court, they can even garnish your wages. If that occurs, your employer will be required by law to deduct a percentage of your wages, which will be redirected to your creditor in order to pay off your debt. In some cases, creditors can get court orders to freeze bank accounts and even seize property or other assets as compensation for your debt.

Credit card debt is the first to go during bankruptcy

Credit card companies take on a large amount of risk when they lend money to consumers. That's one reason why they charge high interest rates. Because of this, credit card debt -- which is unsecured debt -- is the least respected category of debt in bankruptcy proceedings. What this means is that if you file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will usually wipe out your credit card debt first.

Also, after filing for bankruptcy, you will receive protection from an "automatic stay." This means that the credit card company or debt collection agencies will have to halt all wage garnishment actions and quit harassing you with phone calls, etc., to try to collect the debt.

Are you interested in the bankruptcy process?

If you're struggling under a mountain of credit card bills that you don't know how to pay off, you might want to learn about bankruptcy. If you qualify for this debt relief process, soon you can get your financial situation under control.

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