What is the "right to offset"?
How can I research it?
If you deposit funds into a bank where you have a car loan, credit card, mortgage or any other debt, you are housing assets where you also have liabilities; typically, in this instance, the “right of offset” will apply. This means that if you have a depository account with funds available and for some reason do not pay these bills, the depository institution will have the legal right to freeze and seize any funds available to offset monies due to them.
While all banking institutions, as permitted by state law, have the “right of offset” and may use it to collect on delinquent secured loans (such as a car loan or mortgage) not all institutions may collect on unsecured or open-ended revolving accounts. For example, federally chartered banks (Bank of America, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, etc.) may not use “right of offset” to collect on delinquent credit card balances, but federally or state chartered credit unions have the freedom to do so. The important thing to remember is that if you are unsure of your bank's policy or practices with regard to this right, you should move your money ASAP.
As to how to research this, try googling for information or try a local law library. Here's a link to a site that will give you the basics: http://www.bills.com/blog/right-of-offset/