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You’re behind on your monthly payments and have found that your account has been frozen by creditors. Can they do that? Simply put, yes. A creditor can freeze your account, also called a bank levy, to collect funds from debts you owe them. Here’s what you need to know if your account is ever frozen:

Judgments Sometimes Aren’t Needed

For the average creditor like your local mortgage company, a valid judgment from a court is needed before they can freeze your account. On the other hand, agencies like the IRS, student loans, or child support services don’t need a judgment in order to freeze your account since they are government agencies that collect federal taxes or other funds.

Notification Isn’t Required

If your bank account is about to be frozen, creditors aren’t required to give you notice of the impending freeze. The reason being, when a bank receives a court order to freeze your account, they must do so immediately, which often means that you will suddenly find yourself locked out. However, creditors must notify you of the impending lawsuit and judgment that can lead to your account being frozen. If they do not serve you notice of the judgment, you may be able to get the order reversed.

Limits to Freezes

There are limits to how much creditors can freeze and when. For example, if you have protected income that is directly deposited into your account, then creditors cannot freeze the first $2,500, or the first 2 month’s worth. If you receive protected income through paper checks, these rules do not apply. The only time protected income can be frozen and withdrawn by a creditor is if you owe federal taxes or student loans. If a creditor has frozen protected income, check to see if the income qualifies for freeze exemption.

Don’t Wait to Get Legal Help

If you are served a notice by your creditor informing you of a judgment, get legal help immediately. By doing so, you may be able to work out a payment plan with the creditor. In addition, you won’t spend more money in legal fees fighting it after it has gone to court.

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