Can a Creditor Garnish a Bank Account?


Quick Answer

According to the Federal Trade Commission, a creditor can only garnish a bank account after the creditor receives a judgement against the debtor. To receive a judgement, the creditor must first sue the debtor, and a court must award the creditor the right to garnish the bank account.

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Full Answer

Illinois Legal Aid notes that there are certain types of income that are not subject to bank garnishment even when a judgement is awarded to a creditor. These include state and federal unearned income, such as Social Security, unemployment benefits and welfare. Before these types of income can be garnished by a creditor, the bank must confirm that there is at least two months' worth of benefits in the account to serve as a lifeline for the debtor. If there are funds above two months of benefits, then those amounts may be garnished from a bank account by court order.

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