Creditors can, with some restrictions, use a judgment to collect money owed by an individual held in their bank account.  A creditor or other debt collector can use a judgment awarded through a court to garnish funds held in a bank account.  The creditor can request an order to garnish the debtor’s bank account only after obtaining a judgment against that debtor.  The bank will freeze the funds held in a customer’s account to satisfy a court order only after they receive the garnishment order. 

The bank account freeze will prevent the customer or account holder from accessing the funds in the account until a specified time period expires after which any applicable funds or non-restricted funds held will be turned over to the creditor.

Many government agencies such as the IRS can freeze a bank account without a judgment but most other creditors or debt collectors cannot freeze the funds held in a bank account until they first receive a judgment from a court against the bank account holder.

Once a creditor or debt collector does receive a judgment they will use that judgment to collect the amount called for by within the judgment order.  With the judgment, the creditor can try a number of means to collect the money from the debtor including an agreement with the debtor to make payments or making payment in full, obtaining a garnishment against the debtor wages, or by sending a garnishment order to the debtor’s bank.

If the judgment is used to garnish money in the defendant’s bank account it will be given to the creditor by the bank to help satisfy the judgment with some limitations regarding protected funds, escrow funds, joint funds, retirement and other protected income streams and federal benefits.

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