It can be a nasty surprise to find out that your checking account is frozen. When a bank freezes your account, you still have limited access to it. You are able to check your transactions and receive certain deposits. However, you are not able to withdraw or transfer your money until the issue that caused the account to be frozen is cleared.
Make sure to contact your bank immediately if your account is frozen. Bank accounts are frozen for a number of different reasons, and each reason requires specific actions to unfreeze the account. The following are the top three reasons as to why a bank account may be frozen.
Suspicious or Illegal Activity
A bank can freeze your account when it suspects that you are using your account illegally, such as for money laundering or cashing back checks. Sometimes a bank also freezes an account in correlation to terrorist financing. This includes receiving suspicious payments from an outside country or depositing large amounts of money suspiciously, which results in your account being flagged. Even gambling can cause a bank to freeze an account if it suspects suspicious activity.
It is rare for bank accounts to be frozen for these instances, especially for users who are innocent. It is best to seek the help of a lawyer to help you clear up this kind of case.
Unpaid Debts Through Creditors
Creditors can access your account for unpaid debts; however, the creditor must gain approval from the courts before taking this action. For account holders who have their loan accounts at the same institution as their bank account, the lender can gain access to a checking or savings account in order to collect payment on defaulted loans without filing a lawsuit or judgment first. Usually, with these accounts, you must first sign the fine print, which grants the bank this authority.
Once your account is frozen over unpaid debts, it is crucial to get the attorney’s information from your bank immediately. You need to have a better idea of what is going on with your account and work out a payment arrangement. Unfortunately, ignoring a frozen bank account can make the problem worse, causing drops in your credit score and a build-up of bank fees.
Unpaid Debts to the Government
Individuals who owe student loans or taxes to the government may also find their bank accounts frozen. For unpaid taxes, the IRS can issue a tax levy that is not to be lifted until the debt is paid in full.
For unpaid student loans, the government can do a few different things that do not require a judgment, including seizing your tax refund or garnishing a percentage of your paycheck each month. When your loan is in default, your federal loan lender may likely garnish wages and taxes without pursuing a judgment from the courts. Student loans only go away after being paid. They only disappear with a bankruptcy under specific circumstances.
In the chance that your bank account is frozen because of debt collectors or suspicious activity, your bank account should not be wiped clean of funds. Depending on the state where you live, there are limits to what type of income can be taken from your account. For example, in some states, it is illegal for creditors to withdraw Social Security benefits, child support, workers' compensation and more. However, you need to file a claim of exemption within 10 days after your account is frozen.
Consult legal help to aid you in unfreezing your bank account. Consumer bankruptcy attorneys do not force you to pursue bankruptcy but instead help you to understand the legal actions that creditors can take, as well as understand your rights in these situations.