Having your bank account frozen is not fun. A frozen bank account will paralyze your ability to pay your bills because essentially money can go in but no money can go out. Depending on who the authority freezing your bank account was, you may or may not have an opportunity to get your account unfrozen and then get some or all of your money back.
Let’s begin by reviewing who can freeze your bank account and how they can do it.
A creditor can freeze your bank account if 1) they sue you; 2) they successfully obtain a judgement against you; and 3) they are approved by the court to take enforcement action against you. The creditor then takes the proof from the court that they have a judgement and can freeze your account and sends it to your bank. Your bank can accept the document and freeze the funds in your account for a period of time. In the Ontario small claims court for example, the bank would hold the funds in your account for 30 days. At the end of the time period the funds are sent to the court. The court then holds the money for an additional period of time and then it is released to the creditor.
In the case of a frozen bank account with respect to a tax debt to the Canada Revenue Agency, the CRA does not need a court order to freeze your bank account. The CRA will send a notice to your bank - this notice is called a ‘Requirement to Pay’. The bank then will freeze your account and again will hold the funds in your account for a period of time. Once the allotted time period has expired the funds will be directed to the CRA.
In the case of a frozen bank account that results from unpaid family responsibility, the court will issue an order that the account can be frozen. The funds will be held for a period of time and then released to either the Family Responsibility Office or the court, which will later release them to the other parent. If your account has been frozen as a result of unpaid family responsibility you will need to speak to a lawyer to see if he or she can go to court on your behalf to request an order to lift the freeze.
If the case of a bank account that is frozen by the CRA or as a result of a small claims court order, you will need to get financial help, and this help will need to come from a financial consultant who is experienced and capable of combatting a frozen bank account under these circumstances. A good financial consultant can qualify you for programs that will stop the enforcement action being taken against you, freeze the interest accumulating on the debt, potentially reduce the size of the debt and allow you to make a monthly payment that you can afford.
If your bank account is frozen and you need help call DebtCare at 888-890-0888 or visit www.debtcare.ca.