Can a debt collector place a garnish your checking account for more than what is in the account and cause your account to overdraw?

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Can a debt collector place a garnish your checking account for more than what is in the account and cause your account to overdraw?

My son and his wife had to move out of their apartment several months before their lease was up. They were not financially able to pay the past due balance, and the debt ended up going to court and a bank garnishment was apparently awarded. Can the debt collector withdraw the entire amount of the judgement – $1,500 – if there was only $280 in the account ( this threw my son’s checking account into a $1,200 overdraft status)? The garnishment was from a debt collector retained by the apartment complex. No notification was received prior to garnishment. Is this legal?

Asked on January 19, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Virginia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Here is the problem: once a bank receive an order of garnishment from a court they are under an obligation to place a hold of sorts on the account in allowing the garnishee access to their money.  The are also obligated to continue to pay the garnishment amount until it i paid in full The garnishee also incurrs additional fees for all check that are presented and either paid or bounce, plus overdraft fees I am sure.  If your son had overdraft protection that allowed the bank to take the entire amount then that is that and yes, it i most probably legal.  But if he wants to check have him call your state banking commission. 


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