When Can Others See My Bank Accounts Balance?

If you're like most other people, your bank account balance is something that you consider very private and don't want people to be able to easily view. For the most part, banks do an excellent job of protecting the privacy of your bank account information and your balance; however, there are times when people may gain access to your bank account information and even how much money you have in a particular account. This article will address specific scenarios that allow others to view your bank account balance.

Government Agencies

Government agencies, like the Internal Revenue Service, can access your personal bank account. If you owe taxes to a governmental agency, the agency may place a lien or  freeze a bank account in your name. Furthermore, government agencies may also confiscate funds in the bank account. However, there are rules and procedures that must be adhered to by any agency -- even a government agency -- before the bank will allow them to view your personal banking information or balance and before the bank will comply with a seizure request.

Liability Lawsuits

If you are ever involved in a civil lawsuit and lose, the party that sued you may have access to your bank account balance and the money in the account. Whenever someone is awarded a judgment, the court that awarded the judgment will allow the prevailing party to begin searching for and claiming assets of the party held to be liable.

While the court will not directly assist the prevailing party in searching for bank accounts, the court will issue court orders for a bank to turn over information about a particular party's accounts and account balance. Therefore, if you are ever involved in a lawsuit, the party that sues you may have access to your account balance.

Law Enforcement Agencies and Warrants

If you are ever involved in a criminal proceeding, law enforcement agencies may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction for a court order to have banks and other financial institutions turn over all information regarding any types of financial accounts that you may have with them. Of course, this includes bank accounts and bank account balances as well. Law enforcement agencies usually request these types of warrants and subpoenas to help aid in the prosecution of criminals that use banks to hide illegal funds or funds that were earned during criminal activities.

Other Considerations

Besides the circumstances listed above, there are other incidents where a bank will allow other parties access to your bank account information. Be cautious about making your bank account information available to other people. While many banks no longer allow for this, some banks will still provide general amount account balance amount information to people that simply call and request it. For example, if someone knows your checking account information, they can call the bank to verify funds on a check -- even if no check actually exists.

The caller needs to know your name and checking account number to access this sort of information. The caller will ask the bank teller or representative if a check in the amount of a certain amount will clear or not. Some banks will still tell the caller if the check will clear or not clear. While this does not give the caller an actual account balance, it does give the caller an idea about how much money may or may not be in your account. Therefore, you should not give your checking account information to anyone that doesn't have a need for it.