Pennsylvania law prevents creditors from garnishing your wages. However, the state does not protect your bank account if the credit card company wins a judgment against you. This also applies to wages directly deposited into your bank account. Even if you share the account with another person, a creditor may seize funds in your bank account.
Credit Card Judgment
For a credit card company to win a judgment against you, it must sue you and win its case in court. Pennsylvania, like all states, requires the credit card company to serve you notice of the impending lawsuit, giving you time to respond and mount a defense. Failing to appear in court gives the credit card company an automatic default judgment, which it can use to pursue further collections action, such as a lien against your assets or seizure of your bank account.
Pennsylvania is not a community property state. States that follow community property law consider money in a joint bank account deposited after the marriage as marital property, subject to garnishment even if only one spouse owes the debt. However, a bank account seizure in Pennsylvania still affects your spouse if her name is on the account. Your spouse may attempt to vacate the judgment, thereby releasing the account entirely. If you have no access to the account, such as through an ATM card or withdrawal privileges, your spouse may invoke Banking Law 678, claiming she added you to the account for convenience only. In this case, she may have the entire account released. If this is not the case, she may recover 50 percent of the money in the account under Banking Law 675.
Pennsylvania is one of a few states that do not permit wage garnishment as a legal recourse available to creditors. However, certain debts, such as child support, federal taxes and PHEAA student loans, are subject to garnishment.
In a bank seizure, your credit card company has the right to freeze the funds in your bank account, effectively barring you from access to the money in your account. Creditors use this as a tactic to force you to pay your debt. Seizure of a joint bank account is permissible in Pennsylvania as long as the debtor's name appears on the account.
If you share a joint bank account and have a default judgment against you by the credit card company, the other account holder might want to open a bank account under her name to protect herself against a bank account seizure. However, if you are joint account holders on the credit card, the lender has the right to pursue you and the other account holder equally.
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