This article will help explain why garnishing a bank account is the best way to collect money owed in Pennsylvania
If you or your business are owed money, then you may need to take legal action to collect. The first step is to file your complaint. Eventually, if you are owed the money, you should obtain a judgment against the defendant. Obtaining the judgment is only part of the process necessary to collect your money.
The next step, and I believe most important, is executing on the judgment. The process involves issuing a ‘writ of execution’ which gives the Sheriff’s office the authority to try to collect. There are 3 basic options:
Each attempt costs additional money, so it is important to do research on the debtor’s assets before attempting an execution of any kind. Be cautious of attempting to execute on marital property in Pennsylvania, which is almost always exempt from levy.
The most productive of the above three options is attempting to levy and seize bank account funds. Of course to attempt this, you must have a good faith basis for believing the debtor does banking at a specific bank. You are not allowed to attempt garnishment at random banks without a good faith basis that the debtor had conducted banking there. All this means is that you cannot simply blanket every bank in Pittsburgh.
Overall, seizing a bank account is the fastest and most effective way to get paid. The moment the sheriff serves the interrogatories (writ of execution + questions) to the garnishee (bank), the debtor’s account is immediately frozen in its entirety and odds are your debtor will be calling you to resolve the matter.
There are exceptions and other rules with garnishment of bank accounts which should researched before beginning or feel free to call our offices (412.802.6666).