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By: Mark Shapiro
I am not a lawyer, I am a Judgment and Collection Agency Broker. This article is my opinion, based on my experience in California. If you want legal advice, please contact a lawyer.

Of the articles I have written so far, this late 2011 article is very likely to get outdated, as banks merge and change procedures often. Make sure you verify the policy of the bank prior to levying a bank account.

Historically, the California laws covering bank levies were drafted in the days of typewriters, when a person had to visit the branch where they opened their bank account at, to withdraw funds.

Such laws became obsolete, as one can withdraw money at thousands of locations, including some grocery stores. Around 2009, California CCP 704.140 specified that banks can decide where they will allow a garnishment - at one, some, or all branches.

When a brokerage account (cash only) or a bank has an agent for service of process, and is registered in California, you can serve a levy on the California address and reach judgment debtor bank cash funds in every state, because of long-arm statutes. If you cannot use long-arm statutes, you must domesticate the judgment to where the debtor's assets reside.

Many California banks require one to garnish the branch where the judgment debtor opened or maintains an account. Every California bank has its own policies on how levies may be served on them. Outside of California, generally, you can levy on any branch in the state. (To find out where to send subpoenas, see http://subhq.wordpress.com.)

Here is a synopsis of some California bank levy information:

Ameriprise - (cash funds only unless you have a court order) Serve on any branch.

Ameritrade - (cash funds only unless you have a court order) Serve any branch.

Arrowhead Credit Union - Serve any branch.

Bank Of America (BOA) - For Now, you need to serve the branch where the account was opened or where it is now maintained. If you know the debtor's account number, the first four digits of the account number indicates the branch number. Call, and ask the bank "what is the address for the branch?" and the first 4 digits of the account number. Their California legal department is at: 45 Fremont Street, SF, 94105, 800-283-4262.

Bank Of The West - Serve any branch.

Cal-Fed Bank - policy changing, their legal processing department # is 916-374-5945.

California Bank and Trust (California Bank and Trust) - Serve on any branch. (They are a subsidiary of California Zion's National Bank) Their levy department # is 858-514-2592. Charles Schwab - (cash funds only unless you have a court order) - Serve any branch. Their California legal department is: Office Of Corporate Counsel, 101 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94104, # 877-243-9263.

Chase (JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.) - Serve on any branch. Their levy department is at 800-869-3557, extension 818.

CitiBank - Serve any branch - to levy judgment debtor accounts in any state (wow). They are slower because they forward levies to NY, then to Texas. To speed things up, some recovery specialists arrange to fax their Texas office immediately after the levy is served, to freeze the judgment debtor's account faster. Litigation Support, 866-582-6249, their levy department is: 916-374-6100 (Option 8), 830 Stillwater Road/D-1, West Sacramento, CA 95605.

Comerica - For Now, you must serve the branch where the account is now maintained or where it was opened. However, if you garnish the wrong branch, the bank writes down the correct branch on the memorandum of garnishee form. This is great, however they notice the debtor, giving them a chance to remove funds. Their levy department in California is 408-556-5479 or 408-573-2111.

Community Bank - For Now, you must serve the branch where the account was opened or where it is now maintained. Their levy department # is 800-788-9999 x 1256. If you levy the wrong branch, the bank writes down the correct branch on the memorandum of garnishee form.

ETrade (cash funds only unless you have a court order) - cash accounts are held at Discover Bank. Customer service is at 800-717-9833, PO Box 30416, Salt Lake City, UT 84130.

Merrill Lynch (cash funds only without a court order) - Serve any branch. Their custodian of records is: Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, and Smith, Inc, care of CT Corporation System, 818 West 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90017.

Navy Federal Credit Union - Serve any branch. Their legal/levy contact number is 888-503-7105, option 4.

Schoolsfirst Credit Union - Serve on any branch.

Scottrade - (cash funds only unless you have a court order) Serve any branch.

Umpqua Bank - Serve any branch. Their levy department # is 866-486-7782.

Union Bank - Currently, you need to serve the branch where the was opened or where it is now maintained. However, if you levy the wrong branch, they write down the correct branch on the memorandum of garnishee form.

USAA Federal Savings Bank - based in Texas. They have 2 offices in California: Oceanside and San Diego. They accept garnishments by mail.

US Bank Calif - Serve any branch.

Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) - Serve any branch.

Washington Mutual (Now Chase) - Serve on any branch.

WestAmerica - Serve on any branch.

Wells Fargo - Serve any branch. Their levy department is at 480-724-2000 (press 9, then 1) PO BOX 29779 - Phoenix, AZ 85038. World Savings (Now Wachovia/Wells Fargo) - Serve on any branch.

Hard to believe, however there is a strong hint that many banks, especially Chase, are quietly offering "levy proof" accounts to certain customers. They name them "client trust accounts". The bank writes "no funds" on the memorandum of garnishee. This is immoral and illegal. However, I hear reports of this at least a few times a month.

If a bank writes "no funds" and you know there were funds, you may subpoena their records (with a debtor exam) or sue them. In small claims court, they will probably pay you rather than show up in court. On larger amounts, they will probably respond.


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Mark Shapiro - the judgment expert, with the best quality free leads for enforcers, collection agencies and contingency collection attorneys.
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