I received a call from a reported for News10 this week, asking for some help on how things can work when garnishing a bank account. Apparently, Southern had issued a garnishment to a bank account to someone with cancer and took all his money. At least that is what the news story reported.
As I told the reporter, federal law prohibits me from talking publicly about anyone who may or may not have a debt with us, but I tried to help answer some of his questions.
First, let me be very clear: If someone has serious health problems, is honest with us about their income, and wants to make payments we will take them. If someone is not up front or ignores us, we cannot read their mind to know what is going on.
Second: If someone tells us NOT to contact them anymore, we are prohibited by federal law from doing so. If they want to tell us something, they have to call us. We cannot communicate with them anymore.
Third: We do not know the name of a bank account. If a person puts “cancer treatment” in the name of the account, but is still the owner, the bank will answer the garnishment according to the law, and that person owns the account and the money. We do not know the source or the dedicated use.
Fourth: there is ALWAYS more to the story. Just because someone tells a reporter they have tried to work things out, they have no income, or something else, DOES NOT make it true. In these cases, we cannot respond with the other half of the story.
I was very thankful to NEWS10 for allowing me to “fill in the blanks” the best we could with a follow up story that ran on 11/8. I was able to convey the above information for viewers benefit, and for the most part we stopped receiving hate messages from people who don’t know the entire story. This just happens to be an area where only half the story can ever be represented and details of our side cannot be made public. I hope viewers have a better understanding of that now.