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Do you have debt you can't afford to pay?

Are You Receiving Social Security, Pension or Disability Income?


HELPS is a nonprofit law firm and 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We serve senior citizens and disabled persons struggling with debt.

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Need immediate help? Call 855-435-7787 to speak to a HELPS representative.

California's Automatic Bank Account Protection

As of September 1, 2020, debt collectors and creditors with judgments for consumer debt are no longer allowed to empty a Californian's bank account

At HELPS, we really love telling people about the federal law protecting a bank account where federal benefits are deposited. Benefits from the federal government (all forms of Social Security benefits; Supplemental Security Income benefits; Veterans benefits; Federal Railroad retirement, Civil Service Retirement System benefits; and Federal Employee Retirement System benefits) extend automatic protection to the bank account where they are deposited. The protection created by deposit of a federal benefit is equal to two times the amount of the monthly benefit - e.g. a monthly deposit of 1000 dollars of Social Security benefits equals account protection of a balance equal to or below 2000 dollars.

But what about bank accounts where federal benefits are not deposited? What automatic protection is available for people who do not receive federal benefits who are dealing with a judgment for debt they could not afford to pay? Like many others areas of consumer protection, California law offers extra protection for its citizens.

California bank accounts are now automatically protected up to an amount equal to the minimum basic cost of living for a family of four. Currently, this amount is equal to 1,826 dollars. This figure will be adjusted every year based on the cost of living in our state.

The law protecting California bank accounts from being completely emptied due to a levy resulting from a judgment for consumer debt is California Code of Civil Procedure 704.220(a). This law protects money in a judgment debtor’s deposit account in an amount equal to or less than the minimum basic standard of adequate care for a family of four for Region 1, established by Section 11452 of the Welfare and Institutions Code and as annually adjusted by the State Department of Social Services pursuant to Section 11453 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, is exempt without making a claim.

When California bank accounts have funds in excess of the amount covered by California's automatic protection and these funds are frozen as a result of a bank levy, these funds may be claimed as exempt if this is the case. A claim of exemption may be filed with the levying sherrif's department. A claim of exemption must be filed within 15 days (20 days if you received notice by mail) of your receipt of the levy notice, so do not delay claiming your funds as exempt.

To learn more about the laws protecting you from creditors and debt collectors, view our articles page by clicking here.

Peace of Mind
These HELPS clients were dealing with harassing debt collectors and anxiety over old Debt. HELPS provided a solution to their financial worries.