Investopedia explains that bank accounts may be frozen for a variety of reasons, including civil court judgements, suspected illegal activities or suspicious activities that have been detected by government agencies or regulatory bodies. The death of the account holder may also trigger a temporary freeze on bank accounts.
The most likely cause of a frozen bank account is a civil lien due to unpaid debts. MFY Legal Services says that during this process, a plaintiff files a court case against the account holder and wins a judgement that authorizes the plaintiff to collect on the debt. One tool at the plaintiff's disposal is compelling the account holder's financial institution to freeze funds.
MFY Legal Services advises owners of frozen accounts to contact their financial institution to learn the identity of the lien holder. The account owner has the option to prove that certain types funds, such as Social Security, veterans benefits and child support, are exempt from collection or to settle the debt. Some circumstances allow a frozen account's owner to obtain an order to vacate the judgement responsible for the account freeze by proving the action is the result of fraud or that the court lacked the proper jurisdiction to freeze the account.