Get Your Los Angeles Bank Levy Served Right
What if you spend the time finding out where a judgment debtor banks, pay a Sheriff to levy their bank account and the bank responds with a “no funds” or “account closed” statement?
Orange County bank levies can be pricey, with the expense of discovering the account, paying the court, the Sheriff, and a process server, and other odd costs adding up. Getting a “no funds” or “account closed” letter can be frustrating.
There are typically six reasons for getting this response from the bank:
- The judgment debtor is poor or closed their bank account
- The Sheriff, you or another person made a typographical error that caused the levy to fail
- Either you or your information source was wrong and the judgment debtor never had a checking account at that bank or branch
- The judgment debtor uses an alias or is only a signer of the bank account and has no ownership of the money in that account
- The bank made a mistake
- The bank is lying or covering for the judgment debtor
The most common of these reasons are the judgment debtor either never had an account, closed their account, is only a signer of the account, or uses an alternative name. When your judgment debtor is poor, bank levies will rarely cover the money you spent. It’s also possible that judgment debtors lie about their assets at judgment debtor examinations.
Even when you know for sure where a judgment debtor banks, some judgment debtors change bank accounts frequently to avoid detection. There are also state laws that safeguard certain banking details, even for judgment debtors. It’s also possible that bank records are not current. If the judgment debtor uses an alias, you may need to get an affidavit of identity accepted by the court, with evidence that links the judgment debtor with the names they are actively using.
To get an affidavit of identity approved by the court when the judgment debtor has a DBA company, you will need a registered copy of their fictitious name statement filing.
Often “no funds” suggests the judgment debtor is just a licensed signer on the account, which means the judgment debtor has no ownership of the money and so the account cannot be levied. Some people open checking accounts for their children under The Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. Some may use their child’s account as their personal checking account to keep it off-limits to creditors.
If you are positive you know the right bank for the judgment debtor, and that cash was in the account at the time of the levy, you may schedule, subpoena and serve a judgment debtor for an examination in court. A subpoenaed request to produce papers is known in some courts as a Subpoena Duces Tecum, which are served on banks and need to be worded to include any and all accounts connected with the judgment debtor. You could subpoena a request to furnish files from both the judgment debtor and their bank as a third-party.
One objective can be to get both the bank and the judgment debtor in court at the same time to respond to your concerns and bring relevant documents. Request a full year’s worth of records to make it easier to pinpoint important dates, locations and amounts. You may even locate previously unknown accounts.
In California, as in most other states, one has to first serve the judgment debtor a “notice to levy”. If the judgment debtor does not show up in court, you can try to recover the judgment on your own. If the bank doesn’t show up, you may be able to sue them under California state law.
If you can prove the bank had funds in the name of the judgment debtor at the time your levy was served, you should begin by writing a letter to the bank requesting the balance in the account on the levy date, up to the amount required to fulfill the judgment. Include proof the checking account existed, the Sheriff’s documentation and the bank’s previous “no funds”/”no account” notice.
Some banks will pay after receiving your request letter, while other banks will need legal action, which could end in a settlement claim before the trial.
If at any time during your bank levy process, feel free to call JPL Process Service at (866) 754-0520. We’re more than happy to answer your questions and can have your Los Angeles bank levy served in days instead of weeks or months.