If a creditor sues you and wins, the court may allow them to collect money directly from your bank account.
First, the bank places a hold on your bank account. The bank does not warn you about the hold beforehand (so you can't withdraw the money).
Then the court sends you a letter. The letter tells you that the money is on hold, and that you have a right to a hearing. This hearing determines if the creditor is allowed to take the kind of money that’s in your account, based on consumer protection laws. This hearing does not determine if you owe money. If you have a bank account hold, the court has already decided you owe the money. However, the court still needs to decide whether or not the bank can take the money from your bank account.
Request a hearing
If you want a hearing to get your money back:
- Complete the form. You must request the hearing in writing. Use the “request for hearing” form included with the court’s letter.
- Return the form. You have five days to return the form to the court.
If you schedule a hearing, you must attend.
Getting money back
At the hearing, you may be able to get some or all of your money back. You need to prove that the creditor is not allowed to take the type of money you have.
Creditors are never allowed to take certain types of funds including:
- Money that belongs to another person. Creditors can take money from any account that has your name on it. Creditors can not take money from your joint accounts if the money belongs to another owner of the account (like your spouse or business partner).
- Exempt income. Certain types of income are exempt, meaning that the creditor isn't allowed to take it. Exempt income includes:
- Ohio Works First (OWF) or TANF
- Unemployment compensation
- Worker’s compensation
- Tax refunds from Child Tax Credits or Earned Income Tax Credits
- Social Security
- Veterans benefits
- Disability Assistance (DFA)
- Disability benefits or payments from insurance settlements
- Pension payments
- Child support
- Alimony payments
- Bankruptcy money. If you filed for bankruptcy, creditors cannot collect from you. Until the first bankruptcy case is settled, a new creditor cannot collect anything.
No matter the funds source, the court will always leave at least $400 in your account.
Help from a lawyer
A lawyer may help you get your money back. If you are a senior, or have low income, legal aid attorneys may be available to help. To find your local legal aid, use our Find Your Legal Aid tool.
It can be complicated to prove that the creditor is not allowed to take your money. You must show evidence like deposit slips and bank statements proving how much money was in your account, and where the money came from. You must follow the court’s “rules of evidence.” A lawyer can help you follow the rules.
Contacting your creditor’s lawyer
You are allowed to contact the creditor’s lawyer. If you have proof that the creditor took exempt money, ask them to return the funds. The creditor may agree if they think the court will return the funds anyway.
If the lawyer says they will refund the money, you should ask for a letter to confirm the release. A few days later, check with your bank to make sure the money is returned. Also, look for a confirmation letter from your bank.