frozen bank accounts

Frozen Bank Accounts

If your bank account has been frozen, this means that you were sued in a court of law and you lost, with the court then entering a judgment against you.   After the judgment was entered, you didn’t make payment on the judgment so the collector froze your account by using a Writ of Execution and Interrogatories in Aid of Execution. The Interrogatories are a list of questions delivered to your bank demanding to know if you have any accounts there, and, if you do, demanding that the bank place a hold or “freeze” on the accounts.  

Once the freeze is placed, your bank’s attorney will then review the collector’s paperwork and respond to it in writing.  Your bank’s attorney will likely charge you for performing this service, up to a few hundred dollars depending on the bank.  

The time frame that this process takes varies depending upon how fast the bank attorney responds to the collector, then, upon how fast the collector moves after receiving that information from the bank’s attorney.  There is no “normal” time frame.  Having said that, if this process takes more than 2 weeks, that might be considered unreasonable and you may have to hire an attorney to move the claim along.  

If the account is spousal and the judgment is against only one spouse, then the bank will not release any funds to the collector.  If the account is individual or jointly held with someone not your spouse, then the bank will potentially distribute the funds to the collector.  
The bank will not disburse from an account that has social security benefits in it. Even if your funds are not subject to garnishment, it doesn’t mean that the hold or “freeze” on your account will be removed immediately. There is a process that must be followed. The bank’s legal department must respond to the Plaintiff Creditor in writing regarding why the funds are not subject to garnishment. The Plaintiff Creditor must then send a writing to the bank allowing them to remove the hold. The bank must then release the hold. While this sounds like a simple straightforward process, it doesn’t mean that it will happen overnight. If the hold has been longer than 2 weeks that would be the time to consider having an attorney get involved to release the freeze. Any amount of less than two weeks will likely be seen as reasonable and therefore not actionable.

The collector does not have to give you any notice of the freezing of the account.  Your notice arrived when you were sued, then again when the judgment was entered against you.  The collector does not have to give additional notice prior to freezing the account.

There is no statute of limitations argument to be made and you cannot argue that the account wasn’t yours or the amount is incorrect or raise any other defense. The time to do that was before the judgment was entered and now you’ve lost that opportunity.  The only way to attempt to attack the judgment is if you can easily prove that you were not served with the lawsuit.  (There is another way, based upon defective notices, but it’s very rare to have a defective notice). This doesn’t mean that your word is good enough.  It means that the docket has to reflect that you were not served, or, that you were allegedly served at an improper address.  It is rare to succeed in attacking a judgment based upon defective service.  

We do not give any advice on exemptions or how to fill out the exemption forms.

As far as what we can do for you, we can prepare a motion to attack the judgment IF you can show definitively that you were not served and the docket reflects that.   The alternative is that we can help you negotiate a settlement with the collector. If you’ve read this entire article and want assistance with negotiation, or, if you have truly not been served and you can prove it, please contact our office.