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A collection agency repeatedly tries to garnish my bank account. Each time this happens, my bank account is frozen. I provided the collection agency appropriate notification that the account contains only Social Security or other federal benefit payments that are exempt from garnishment, but they continue to try to garnish my account. What can I do?

Contact your bank to inform it of the situation. You may also consider doing one or more of the following:

  • Contact your state attorney general or consumer protection agency for assistance or to file a complaint.
  • Seek legal assistance for information on your legal rights.
  • File a complaint against the debt collector with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) at (855) 411-2372 or visit its website at consumerfinance.gov.
  • Find a reputable credit counseling agency. The CFPB also offers information on choosing a credit counselor on its website.

Be aware that if your bank has already been served with a garnishment order and determined that money in your account is exempt from garnishment (referred to as automatically protected benefits), the bank cannot take any additional action if served with the same order again. A collection agency or other creditor is required to get a new court order each time it seeks to garnish your account.

Refer to 15 USC 1692 "Fair Debt Collection Practices Act."

Last Reviewed: October 2020

Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on HelpWithMyBank.gov should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.

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