Money and Debt

Frozen bank account or attachment

A creditor can get a court order to take money from your bank account to pay back a debt. But you may be able to get some money back. To do this you must confirm in writing that you want a hearing, and then you must go to the hearing.

Send this page to:

Understanding the Basics

See what you need to know to take action.

You may have a creditor who tries to collect a debt. In order to collect they sue you in court. If the creditor wins, the court gives them the right to collect payment from you. There are several ways they can do this. One method is taking money directly out of your bank account.

Here's what will happen next:

  • This kind of lawsuit can be surprising because the bank places a hold on the money in your account without telling you. The courts have banks do this so people don’t remove the money before the creditor can get what they are owed.
  • Second, once the bank is holding the money, the court will send you a letter. There are two reasons for the letter. The first is to inform you that the money has been taken. The second is to let you know that you have a right to a hearing.

Confirm that you want a hearing

The important thing to know here is you must confirm that you want the hearing. If you do not, the court will not schedule a hearing. The letter from the court will include a form to request a hearing. You have five days to return the form to the court.

If you request the hearing, you have to go to the hearing.

Getting some money back at the hearing

If you ask for and go to the hearing, you might be able to get some of your money back. This is because there are types of income or benefits that a creditor can’t take, like:

  • Money in a joint account with someone else, like a spouse, that belongs to the other person.
  • “Exempt income,” like social security payments.
  • Funds that are part of a bankruptcy procedure.
  • In addition, the court will not leave less than $400 in your account.

At the hearing, you will have to prove that the creditor is not allowed to take that type of money to actually get it back. Learn more about what to do at a hearing against a creditor who is taking money from your bank account.

Try to get a lawyer who can help

There are lawyers who can help you through the process. If you’re a senior or have low income, legal aid attorneys may be available. 

Forms and Letters

Find forms and letters that you can fill out yourself.

Local Government and Community Resources

Find courts and helpful resources in your community.