Constant calls from debt collectors are annoying. Although you can ignore phone calls, ignoring the possibility of having your bank account seized is a little tough. If you ever paid a collection agency you might be concerned about the security of your banking information. Your account information is kept private under the Fair Debt Collection Protection Act. Collection agencies can't share your account information with other collection agencies.
Obtaining Information About Your Bank Accounts
Remember that no agency can share bank information if you don't provide it, which you're not required to do. Collection agencies can be aggressive and intimidating. The collection agency may make false claims to coerce you into paying the debt. After all, a debt collector's primary goal is to recover the money you owe. Threats to contact your bank and seize assets are a violation of the FDCPA.
Sharing Account Information
If you provide your bank account information to a collection agency, the information must be kept private. Under the FDCPA, information must be kept between the individual, the creditor, an attorney representing one of the parties, and a credit bureau. Any personal information the collection agency obtains can only be used for the purpose of satisfying the debt you owe.
Locating Bank Accounts
Although collection agencies can't obtain your account information from other creditors, there are other ways to reveal your bank accounts. If you ever mailed a check to the original creditor, the creditor will likely assist with recovering the debt by handing over your account information. There are also companies that specialize in uncovering a debtor's assets. Even if a collection agency is able to track down your bank information, it cannot access your account without permission or a court order. To levy or seize assets, the collection agency must file a lawsuit against you and win. If the collection agency wins, the court will grant a judgment allowing the collection agency to recover the debt by any legal means necessary. According to the Federal Trade Commission, a debt collector may not send a copy of the judgment to your employer unless attempting to secure a wage garnishment or other remedy. Other legal means for collecting on a judgment include freezing the funds in your account and placing liens on your property.
Caution When Making Payments
If you enter an agreement with a debt collector, avoid providing any bank account information. When you authorize automatic payments, the debt collector might continue debiting the funds from your bank account even after you have canceled the agreement. When the money is taken from your account, it can be almost impossible to get it back. However, if the collector accesses your account without your permission, you have 60 days from the date of the bank statement showing the transaction to dispute it and launch an investigation. When paying off debt, send money orders instead for your own protection.
- Lawyers: Bank Account Seizures
- Judgment Consultant Specialist: Judgment Recovery
- Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Debt Collection Practices - When Hardball Tactics Go Too Far
- Federal Trade Commission: Debt Collection FAQs - A Guide for Consumers
- Nolo: Collecting from a Judgment Debtor - Wage Garnishment, Property Liens, and Bank Account Levys
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.