posted on Jul, 11 2014 @ 07:14 AM
Here's the story in a nutshell: the money that goes into my checking account is strictly from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This money is
supposed to be exempt from seizure by creditors. I used the debit card associated with the checking account to make three purchases which resulted in
returns and refunds that were credited to my account. Apparently, these credits looked like income from non-SSA sources, and so a creditor bank
swooped in and seized the money, and my bank charged me a hefty fee for processing the levy.
The "story in a nutshell" above raises a couple of questions, the first being: how did the creditor bank, a very big one, learn about my checking
account at a much smaller bank? One thought is that the big creditor bank handles credit and debit card transactions through the card swiping devices
at retail establishments, and my use of my card at, say, the local supermarket, tipped them off. Or maybe a check that I wrote to someone was
deposited into an account at the big creditor bank. Another idea is that my smaller bank, over the past few weeks, sent me unsolicited credit card
applications in the mail which were discarded. Prior to mailing such solicitation, typically a bank will do a pre-authorization by pulling the
accountholder's credit report for this purpose, and a record of this is kept which can be viewed by other financial institutions.
Well, the answer, whatever it may be, to the first question above does not address how the creditor bank would come into the knowledge of the detail
of my bank account, meaning the reversal of purchase transactions (the credits for refunds). There would have to be some violation of banking
confidentiality laws here, right? I don't really know, but the big bank would have access to this information if they handle all of the data
processing of the smaller bank, which does happen in the world of banking and finance.
Here's the thing: the amount that the big creditor bank seized is far less than the total amount of the judgment. In fact, that smaller amount
doesn't exactly add up to the total of my last three refund amounts. It's off by about $10.00. My bank claims that it has nothing to do with the
formulation of the court order for asset seizure; they just comply with it, and they say that, while that court order states the total amount of the
judgment, it specifically designates the smaller amount to be seized. My bank offers no explanation as to how the smaller amount was arrived at.
Here's a bigger thing: my bank says that it does not stand in the way of an asset seizure AT ALL even if exempt assets are being
targeted. They tell me that, if there is some problem here, then I have to take the matter up with the court. Initially, one of their customer service
reps told me this. I did not buy it. Later, a second customer service rep told me the same thing. I still did not buy it; I thought that I was just
being given the royal runaround.
Much later, having dealt with one of my bank branch's officers and with a lawyer, I learned that this is, in fact, how things are. The conclusion is
that a creditor bank can seize a whole lot of non-seizeable assets from the town widow, and then it is incumbent upon her to go to court, file
motions, and go through hell to get her Social Security money back. In the meantime, the po, po old lady can starve to death.
So here's yet another question: if the big creditor bank could have gone for the entire amount of the judgment by seizing much more of my exempt SSA
money, and could have left me in the lurch to go through hell to get it back, then why didn't they? Why did they settle on a much smaller amount that
sorta looks like the sum of the last three refunds to my account? Even my own bank cannot explain this, and they must have much experience in dealing
with such things.
Why would the creditor bank do what they did for an amount that I admit to be peanuts? If they violated bank confidentiality laws, why would they do
this for peanuts... unless they are doing such things on a much grander scale?
Words of wisdom: Neither a borrower nor lender be. And, for heaven's sake, never, never take out a student loan. (BTW, a student loan is not the
issue here. My relatively small student loans were paid off decades ago.)