You don’t say what state you are in, so it’s a little hard to get specific.
First off, it sounds like the Collection Agency is in violation, or running close to violation, of the Fair Debt Practices Act … don’t succumb! Refer them to the CCCS, if they don’t like it, tough! CCCS is there for a reason, and their reason is to help with unsecured debt, which a credit card is. Keep in mind, they are right, they probably don’t deal with CCCS, but creditors do; and there is nothing to say the creditor can’t and won’t pull that account out of debt collection once CCCS sets up your plan.
Send the Collection Agency a letter advising of your participation in CCCS (give them the company, name, ID#, address and telephone of CCCS); tell them all future contacts should be with them. Also tell them no further phone contacts are permitted with you or your husband, they must only contact you via letter at your home per the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Google the link). This should stop the harassment; if not, you can file a complaint against them with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and your State’s Attorney General. You can read more debt collection tips on the internet.
Now, for garnishment, as I said, I don’t know what state you are in; but I’m in NY; in NY they can only garnish 10% of your gross and that only after they have started the lawsuit and filed the judgment against you. Not great, but not horrendous either. The fees in NY on $5,000 of debt should be less than $500 (roughly) and would be added to the judgment when filed. Then once the garnishment is filed, you would have 20 days to start making the 10% payments each pay period yourself (usually to a Sheriff’s Civil Office or other legal authority not to the creditor directly). If you default in the payments, then, and only then, is the garnishment filed with your employer and the money starts coming out of your paycheck. This is to give you an idea of the procedure; some states don’t allow garnishment; some states allow more to be taken. It’s important you check in your state as to what is and isn’t allowed.
Next, hold your head up; don’t panic … IT’S ONLY MONEY! Your husband is right, don’t risk your home! Work through this together, you can do it … just keep the lines of communication open between you, work with CCCS, and don’t let the creditors or debt collectors browbeat you!
Now, take a deep breath…
And get started … we are here to help you in any way we can and to give you emotional support … remember that 😉