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What is a garnishment?

A garnishment allows a creditor to remove funds from your bank account to pay off your debt. This may happen when a creditor

  • sues to collect a debt you owe,
  • wins a court judgment against you, and
  • obtains a court order instructing your bank to garnish your account—that is, to turn over funds from your account to the creditor.

Other types of assets may also be garnished. For example, the creditor can ask the court to order your employer to withhold a portion of your salary and pay it to the creditor instead of to you.

Last Reviewed: April 2021

Please note: The terms "bank" and "banks" used in these answers generally refer to national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches or agencies of foreign banking organizations that are regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Find out if the OCC regulates your bank. Information provided on should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion of the OCC.

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