Garnishing Your Bank Account

My bank account was frozen and I was never given notice. 
This is a frequent complaint that we hear from consumers. 
Learn more about this and other frequent inquiries by reading
below.

What is a bank garnishment?  If there is a
judgment against you, to satisfy the judgment, the creditor can
garnish your wages, garnish your bank account or place a lien on
personal property.  If the garnishment is for collecting taxes
or a federally funded student loan, a judgment or court order is
not necessary.

Is the debt collector or creditor required to give you
notice prior to garnishing your bank account?
  No, there
is no rule requiring the prior notice before garnishing your bank
account.   However, you must have received notice of the
lawsuit against you by service of a summons.  Once you receive
the summons and lawsuit, there is no continuing obligation to warn
you of each ensuing step.

But I never knew that there was a lawsuit against me. 
How can this happen?  What can I do?
  You have the
right to know that a lawsuit
is pending against you, and that a judgment (and ultimately a
garnishment) can be placed against you.   Whether you
were given that knowledge will be made known by a review of the
court file. 
 
The court file is a public record, meaning you are entitled at any
time to see its contents.  If you are interested in protecting
yourself from undue harm from this garnishment, you should go to
the courthouse where this case is pending and obtain the court
file.  When you obtain the court file, you should go through
it and make copies of the “Complaint” which is the lawsuit filed
against you, the “Summons” and any document indicating it is a
“Proof of Service” or “Affidavit of Service.”  This is the
document upon which they claim they notified you of the lawsuit
that was filed and provided you the opportunity to go to court to
defend yourself.
 
If after reviewing those documents, it appears that the service was
faulty (i.e. not served at your place of residence at the time)
then please contact us for assistance. 
We may be able to help get the judgment vacated and provide you the
opportunity to defend yourself and resolve this debt in a more
reasonable manner than having your wages taken from you. 

What is a default judgment?  If a lawsuit is filed
against you and you do not properly respond, you may wind up having
a judgment against you.  That is called a default
judgment.

This is a judgment against my spouse or significant other,
not me.   My name is nowhere on the judgment, can they
still take my money? 
No, they can not take your money,
but  you need to prove to the court and creditor or debt
collector that these funds are yours.   You will need to
provide documentation such as paystub receipts and bank
statements.  It is in your hands to prove that these funds
should not be subjected to the garnishment.

What type of funds are exempt from garnishment? 
This varies from state to state.  Please click here
for your state’s wage garnishment rules.  However, no matter
where you live social security payments and unemployment benefits
are exempt from garnishment.

Some helpful tips to prevent garnishment
surprises:

(1)   Never ignore a summons or lawsuit.  Respond
timely.
(2)   Keep a paper trail.  All communication should
be verified in writing, like a settlement, and sent certified
mail.
(3)   If you have a spouse that has credit problems, keep
your bank account and other assets separate. 
(4)   Contact SmithMarco, P.C.,
 if you still have questions.  We provide free,
confidential case
reviews