How to unfreeze a frozen bank account

A frozen bank account can be the result of a number of different legal acts. Most frozen accounts, however, are due to unpaid judgments, collections, charge-offs, medical bills, IRS taxes, liens, and private loans. A frozen account occurs when the unpaid debt is brought to court and you are found guilty of refusing to pay the debts. The lawyer for the plaintiff will usually secure the freeze on your account. There are several ways to unfreeze an account.

Determine the cause of the bank account freeze. Call your bank and ask for the number of the attorney who placed the court-ordered freeze. Call the attorney and ask for the reason.

Determine if the cause is valid. If the debt is unpaid, you'll need to repay the debt prior to getting your bank account unfrozen. If you never received a summons to appear in court, you are not responsible for the debt (identity fraud), you have already paid the debt or you are completely unaware of the debt, then the claim may be invalid.

Instruct your attorney to file a Motion to Vacate the Default Judgment if the freeze is invalid. If the Motion is granted, the account should be unfrozen immediately.

Determine if any of your income is exempt. Some types of exempt income include: social security payments, Veterans Affairs payments, disability payments, and some earned income.

Contact the plaintiff's attorney to unfreeze your bank account due to exempt income. Creditors will only unfreeze an account that contains only exempt income. This must be proven with recent bank statements that prove direct deposits of social security, disability, and VA income.

Review your account for co-mingled funds, which is both exempt and non-exempt funds in your account. Creditors will not unfreeze an account containing non-exempt income.

File another Motion to Vacate if you have co-mingled funds. A judge must vacate the decision if you have exempt income in a frozen bank account.

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Things Needed

  • Copies of the judgment/debt
  • Copy of the Summons to Court (if applicable)
  • Bank account information

About the Author

Based in Eugene, Ore., Duncan Jenkins has been writing finance-related articles since 2008. His specialties include personal finance advice, mortgage/equity loans and credit management. Jenkins obtained his bachelor's degree in English from Clark University.

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