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Frozen Bank Account

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Mark Cappel
UpdatedMay 16, 2024
Key Takeaways:
  • There is no knowing for certain when a judgment-creditor may freeze a bank account.
  • An out-of-state creditor must domesticate a judgment.

How long does it take for an out-of-state judgment-creditor to freeze a bank account?

I recently moved from New York to North Carolina. I need to open up a bank account to cash a check but I am worried that an old judgment may surface and a creditor may try to freeze my account. How long does it take for a creditor to freeze an account from the time I open the account? In other words, do I have at least a couple weeks to draw out the funds before any creditor can try to levy the account?

My answer assumes your judgment was from a court in your former state and not your new state.

Although no one can guarantee you a specific amount of time before the judgment creditor in question attempts to freeze your bank account, I would expect that upon opening a new account in a new state, you would have at least a few months before you need to worry about the creditor taking such action.

The primary reason for the delay in your case is your change of residence to a different state. Were you still residing in your former state (New York), the creditor would likely be able to freeze your new bank account quickly. However, because your new account will be opened in your new state of residence (North Carolina), and the creditor's judgment was entered in your old state, the creditor would be required to file a motion with the local courts in your new county of residence seeking to domesticate its judgment. Once domesticated in your new home state, the judgment would be enforceable as if it had been granted by your new state's court, and the creditor would be able to freeze your bank account, garnish your wages, place a lien on your property located in your new state, etc., just like any other judgment creditor.

Although it is possible the judgment-creditor may file for domestication of its judgment in your new state of residence, and subsequently seek to levy your new bank account, many creditors choose not to pursue this course of action, as it can be a costly endeavor and often does not improve their ability to collect. The reason is that the creditor would need to file its motion for domestication before it knows whether you own any assets in your new state that can satisfy the judgment. Your new bank or credit union will not notify the creditor you opened a new account, so it will be up to the creditor to try to find where you are now banking. This is a difficult task for any creditor, especially if you are banking with a relatively small bank or credit union and have not paid the creditor from the new account. Although I advise you to be careful about using the new account while you have an outstanding judgment against you, I would be surprised if this creditor will take action against your new account for a long time, if ever.

To learn more about your rights as in the collections process, see the resource Collections Advice.

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



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WW Daley, Jan, 2021

Do banks in North corolina, want 10k for certificate to unfreeze account for suspected money laundering, is this true

JJosh, Aug, 2021

Hello W. Daley. 

Thank you for reaching out. Please, do not take my answer to be legal advice as I am not an attorney. Only attorneys can offer legal advice. 

Following the events of September 11, banking regulations have become much more stringent to restrain terrorists and criminals from using financial institutions as a tool to run their business. 

If you are not a money launderer, a terrorist financier, or a fraudster, you have the right to receive adequate information on what's the reasoning behind your account freeze. 

Once you receive this notification make the call to the bank and collaborate to allow them to resolve their investigation. at that point, if all is well they should be able to lift that status. 

Regards, Josh 

JJames, Jan, 2014
I live in PA and got a judgment from NY over that northern leasing systems inc. I am disabled and couldn't travel to New York. What happens now? I told them in a letter that it was past the statute of limitations which was 4 years on a 8 yr old debt. Also had no way to get to New York.
BBill, Jan, 2014
Consult with a Pennsylvania lawyer to discuss your options to respond to the judgment, and if you have any grounds to file an appeal and motion to vacate the judgment.
aanna costanzo, Oct, 2013
I have a judgment against me in NY state. Under the Exempt Income Protection Act (EIPA) in New York, they can not freeze my account if I have less than $1,740 in the bank. If I move out of state but continue to use my NY account can they touch it? Or will it still be safe in NY even if I'm not an NY resident?
BBill, Oct, 2013
EIPA applies to New York residents. The law currently exempts $2,625, if a New Yorker's account contains directly deposited exempt benefits, such as Social Security, Veterans benefits, disability, pensions and child support. It exempts $1,740 for all other accounts.

The law does not apply to residents in other states. If you move to another state, EIPA no longer applies to you. Instead, your new state's collection laws apply.
RRick, Feb, 2013
We live in Georgia. My daughter has a judgement against her for an old credit card debt. Yesterday a garnishment was placed on her bank account. She is a single mother, not working, going to college full time. The monies in her bank account are from child support and student loan proceeds, a bank representative told her she could file a petition and show that the monies were not from wages but from child support & student loans and get the funds released, other articles I have read have stated that in Georgia all monies can be garnished, regardless of their source. Can you shed some light please?
BBill, Feb, 2013
Consult with a Georgia lawyer who has consumer law or bankruptcy experience about this matter immediately. In particular, ask the Georgia lawyer if the exemptions listed in Georgia § 44-13-1 apply to your daughter's situation. I interpret § 44-13-1 to mean its exemptions apply to judgments, but a I hasten to add I am not a Georgia lawyer.
GGabriela, Dec, 2011
I Live in NJ. I got a Bank Levy about 3 months ago. As soon as it happened I Called The Law Firm and arranged a payment plan. I have payed for 2 months already and on time, yet I just got a Levy from the same law firm yesterday. Apparently they forgot to notify the court that I'm on a payment plan. Is this Legal? Can I get my money back? I have payed $325 every 14th of the Month and the Payment is due the 17th. I don't get it. They took my mortgage money which went in right after the Levy and now my account is showing -$1,800.00.
BBill, Dec, 2011
As I am not a lawyer I can not give you legal advice or a legal opinion, but will share a few thoughts with you.

Do you have a written agreement with the law firm? If so, ask them why they are still placing a levy on the bank account when you are making payment. If you have no written agreement, it is harder to prove that the law firm is acting in bad faith. It think it is wise for you to seek some legal advice.

A separate issue is the negative balance in your bank account. Speak with you bank and cancel any overdraft programs, such as overdraft protection. It is wise not to have money in any account, which can be levied, and certainly you do not wish to be in overdraft.