How do I know if I am going to be garnished before bankruptcy?

Ask your payroll office.  Really, it’s that easy.    
ask payroll

If there is a garnishment in place for your next payday, they will tell you.  If there is not, then you have at least two weeks of worry until the next payday.  Just remember that we can file a bankruptcy to stop that next garnishment.  You may feel a little shy about asking payroll or your HR Department that kind of question.  Trust me, they already know your business, and this isn’t going to reveal any secrets that they don’t have to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

For a little background, just remember that a normal creditor (not counting ORS or the IRS) cannot garnish you until they sue you.  They need to serve you with a lawsuit.  Then, they need to get a judgment.  Then, they need to find out where you work.  Finally, they need to serve a writ of garnishment on your employer.  It’s not an immediate thing.  When a creditor tells you that they are “initiating garnishment proceedings,” they are lying.  It’s a slow, drawn-out process.

That being said, yes, it is possible that a creditor sued you and got a judgment without your knowledge.  It is also possible that they somehow divined where you work.  This means that the only way you can be sure is to ask your payroll office.  They will give you a straight answer on any possible garnishment much better than I can.