Your checking account can be frozen and garnished by creditors looking to collect on owed debts. The creditor obtains a court order permitting the removal of funds from your checking account to satisfy a money judgment, tax debt or support order. The order is served on your bank, freezing your account. You cannot access your money while the account is frozen, and once the time dictated by state law has passed for you to challenge the action, the money owed is removed from your account. Your checking account can be brought down to zero or a negative balance due to bank fees because of a garnishment unless you take immediate action.
Contact the creditor garnishing your account immediately. Ask what you need to do to have the lien released or the account unfrozen. Some creditors will offer you a payment plan and request a small down payment in return for ceasing a collection action against your checking account. Negotiate with the creditor for payments you are able to afford. Get any repayment agreement you make in writing.
File for bankruptcy. This grants you an automatic stay against collection actions from creditors. Inform the court and your attorney of the filing to ensure your checking account is released as soon as possible.
Visit your bank if some or all of the funds in your checking account are exempt from garnishment. Some types of funds cannot be garnished under federal law, like Social Security benefits. Ask for a copy of your checking account history for proof of deposits of exempt funds.
Contact the creditor if you have exempt funds in your account. Inform the creditor the funds cannot be garnished under federal law. Submit proof of the exempt deposits.
Contact an attorney if the creditor will not release your checking account with exempt funds. Contact the bar association in your area for a list of attorneys who handle fair debt collection cases.
Consult an attorney before filing for bankruptcy to determine the best course of action.