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PNS Daily News - October 23, 2020 

President Trump and Joe Biden square off in their final debate; warnings that "dark days" of the pandemic are yet to come; and food assistance now available for some wildfire victims.

2020Talks - October 23, 2020 

The second and last presidential debate was much more controlled than the first; President Trump keeping to his main themes, calmly rebutted by Biden.

Virginia Banks Permitting Unlawful "Garnishing"

March 19, 2008

Roanoke, VA - It's a different twist on 'unlawful search and seizure' - cases of illegal 'seizure' from banks apparently unwilling to 'search' for the right information. Many Virginia banks allow creditors to garnishee the accounts of Social Security recipients, even though Federal law prohibits seizing Social Security income.

Attorney Henry Woodward of Roanoke is trying to convince Virginia banks to block such seizures. He says some institutions are cooperating, but others tell him it's too hard to determine when money comes from a protected source, such as Social Security. It's a claim Woodward disputes.

"It's entirely obvious from any bank statement exactly where the money came from, because it's printed right on the bank statement. It's obvious as well that anyone looking at the account as maintained by computer in the bank is bound to see the code that shows where the money comes from."

Woodward says one reason banks resist leaving protected funds alone is that they make money from it, charging the accountholder a fee of as much as $100 when the account is subject to garnishment.

"It's just such a crying need, because people are losing benefits often essential to their rent, utilities and food, as well as seeing their money go to the bank - for fees that are totally unwarranted."

Woodward says Citibank, for example, refuses to garnishee protected funds, and he's negotiating with several smaller banks and credit unions to do likewise. Until more of them agree, however, he says consumers should try to keep protected payments - like Social Security income - separate from other money. He tells people that, once a creditor knows where your bank account is, their money is probably safer in their mattress.

John Robinson/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - VA