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Credit Card Collection

I have a credit card that I can't afford to pay. Can the creditor seize my tax refund?

I have a credit card with Bank Of America FAA CARD SERVICES.I live in Michigan.I owe $7.000 on this card it is a unsecured c.c. My name is soley on the card and account. I was married 2 yrs ago,my husband and I file married,jointly, can the credit card company take our tax return. It is going to an account direct deposited, my name is not on that account.I'am self employed and have tried to keep up with the payments. Thank You

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Bill's Answer
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I am unclear as to what is happening with your account. If you have fallen behind with the payments on the debt there are several legal means a creditor has to collect the debt. I will provide you an overview of what typically happens in these circumstances.

When a debtor stops paying on a debt, a creditor will attempt to contact the debtor on the telephone and via the mail. When the number of days since the most recent payment reaches 120-180 days, the account is no longer considered current and the creditor is required by generally accepted accounting principles to "write-off" the debt. Writing-off a debt does not mean the debtor is no longer responsible for the debt, or that collection efforts cease.

At the write-off point, the creditor will transfer the debt to a late-accounts department, or has the option to sell the debt to a collection agent. The collection agent will buy the debt at a discount. However, the collection agent has the right to collect the entire balance due plus interest.

A creditor -- a debt collector that owns a debt account is a creditor -- has several legal means of collecting a debt. But before the creditor can start, the creditor must go to court to receive a judgment. A court (or in some states, a law firm for the plaintiff) is required to notify the debtor of the time and place of the hearing. This notice is called a "summons to appear" or a "summons and complaint." In some jurisdictions, a process server will present the summons personally. In others the sheriff's deputy will pay a visit with the summons, and in others the notice will appear in the mail. Each jurisdiction has different civil procedure rules regarding proper service of notice. (See Served Summons and Complaint to learn more about this process.)

If you ever receive a summons you should do as it instructs! This is not just a social invitation that you can ignore. In the hearing, the judge will decide if the creditor should be allowed to collect the debt. If the debtor fails to appear, the judge has no choice but to decide on behalf of the creditor.

Therefore, if you receive a summons, the first thing you should do is contact the law firm representing the creditor. Open a negotiation to see if they are willing to settle the debt. If not, it would be wise to respond as indicated in the summons. If there is a hearing, attend it and present your side of the story to the judge. Use facts, tell the truth, dress appropriately, and show the court respect. The court may or may not decide in your favor, but at least you exercised your right to be heard.

The court may decide to grant a judgment to the creditor. A judgment is a declaration by a court that the creditor has the legal right to demand a wage garnishment, a levy on the debtor's bank accounts, and a lien on the debtor's property. Which of these tools the creditor will use depends on the circumstances. We discuss each of these remedies below.

Wage garnishment

The most common method used by judgment creditors to enforce judgments is wage garnishment, in which a judgment creditor would contact the debtor's employer and require the employer to deduct a certain portion of the debtor's wages each pay period and send the money to the creditor.

Levy bank accounts

A levy means that the creditor has the right to take whatever money in a debtor's account and apply the funds to the balance of the judgment. Again, the procedure for levying bank accounts, as well as what amount, if any, a debtor can claim as exempt from the levy, is governed by state law.


A lien is an encumbrance -- a claim -- on a property. For example, if the debtor owns a home, a creditor with a judgment has the right to place a lien on the home, meaning that if the debtor sells or refinance the home, the debtor will be required to pay the judgment out of the proceeds of the sale or refinance.

To learn more I encourage you to read an article I wrote, collections advice.

If you have a judgment against you, consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction to learn how the judgment will affect you, based on your individual financial circumstances and your local rules.

Federal Student Loan

I realize you mentioned in your question that your debt was to Bank of America for a credit card debt. The only instance that I know of where a federal tax refund check can be seized is for a federal student loan. If you have a federal student loan the government can seize your tax return administratively. This means they can garnish your federal income tax return without a court hearing and court order. If you have a private student loan there is no administrative means for the creditor to do so. makes it easy for you to apply for traditional forms of debt relief.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.



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