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Bank Account Searches and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act


If you are seeking to attach the funds of a debtor, evaluate the finances of a counterparty to a business transaction, or investigate the opposing party in litigation, a bank account search can be an invaluable asset. A bank account search can give you an inside look into the finances of a party and the debts they owe, not to mention tracking down an account to attach for repayment of a debt. Banks can face significant liability, however, if they freely give out a customer’s private information, and attorneys who try to gather confidential information using underhanded tactics can face repercussions as well. For those reasons, there are best practices to employ when conducting bank account searches.

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and Unlawful Account Search Methods

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) is a federal law that imposes a duty on financial institutions to keep customer information private and prohibits anyone from obtaining customer information from a financial institution under false pretenses. GLBA applies to nonpublic personal information such as bank account numbers, account balances, and other private information.

If an attorney or an agent acting on behalf of an attorney were to, for example, call a bank using a false identity in order to induce a bank employee to divulge private information about a customer, the attorney and their agent could face serious criminal liability. GLBA specifically prohibits such “pretexting” conduct. GLBA also proscribes submitting false documents to a bank (to obtain private customer information). Attorneys who violate GLBA could face up to five or ten years in prison, depending upon the perceived severity of the conduct.

How to Lawfully Conduct a Bank Account Search

There are ways to legally identify a party’s bank accounts and even find out details such as account balances. The easiest method is, of course, to request the information from the account holder or designated representative. Assuming the account holder does not wish to divulge that information, other means are necessary.

A creditor or other party may have grounds to obtain a court order to examine a party’s assets. If a creditor has a judgment against a debtor, for example, they can use that judgment to seize the debtor’s assets. They can also seek an order of examination forcing the debtor to disclose the location of assets, details about their income, and other pertinent information. If financial information is relevant to a legal proceeding, a party can also seek to subpoena a financial institution for records pertaining to a customer.

Outside of the courtroom, there are legal ways to search for bank accounts held by an individual or institution. A seasoned intelligence-gathering service can utilize public filings such as divorce settlements, garnishment orders, auto loans, mortgage filings, professional licenses, utility records, mortgage papers, and others to identify bank accounts and other assets. There are a number of perfectly legal databases and resources to utilize. Even physical surveillance can be effective. These searches can also give some insight into a party’s prior transactions and creditors. Once accounts have been located, obtaining legal authority to investigate those accounts becomes much more streamlined.

If you are gathering evidence for pending litigation, tracking down a debtor’s assets, or performing due diligence in advance of a transaction, Millennium Intelligence Agency is here for your support. Call our professional legal investigative team today at 213-986-9888 for dedicated, detail-oriented, and effective intelligence gathering services.

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