Can my checking account be garnished? Huge topic at our office right now. The answer is a big MAYBE. It really depends upon the circumstances. First off, let’s explain that a checking account garnishment cannot occur in any circumstance until the creditor obtains a judgment against you (there are limited exceptions, but for purposes of this article we are focusing on credit card lawsuits). No judgment equals no garnishment. So my first piece of advice is to discuss your situation with a consumer attorney… most of us offer a free consultation. If a creditor threatens checking account garnishment before obtaining a judgment, they may have violated debt collection laws. If they threaten, at any time, to garnish a spousal joint account, again, they may have violated debt collection laws. Spousal joint accounts are not subject to garnishment unless the creditor obtains a judgment against both spouses.
My second piece of advice is to defend the lawsuit… in most instances. Most collection lawsuits in Pennsylvania are initially defective, that is, they are legally insufficient. The court does not automatically know this, you have to raise this issue with a process called Preliminary Objections. This places the Court, and the creditor, on notice that they need to produce “more”… more documents, more contracts, more statements… MORE!
In the event that you lose a collection lawsuit, then yes, your checking account is subject to a garnishment, if it is not a spousal account. (Other joint accounts, such as those between friends, parent/child, or other relatives, can be subject to a bank account garnishment if you lose the lawsuit). There are minor exceptions to garnishment of those funds, but for the most part, the entire account up to the judgment amount is subject to a garnishment.
Contact our office today at 412-823-8003 or 1-888-536-6644 for a free consultation regarding checking account garnishments.