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The Struggle Against Corporate Abuse: How Violations of 42 U.S.C. 408(8) Are Being Fought

42 U.S.C. 408, also known as the “anti-attachment” provision, prohibits the withholding, suspension, or reduction of Social Security benefits for the purposes of paying debts. The law is intended to protect vulnerable individuals who rely on Social Security benefits as their primary source of income.

In recent years, there have been cases of banks and corporations violating this law. For example, in 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) fined two banks, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, for illegally freezing the bank accounts of customers who had Social Security or other government benefits deposited into them. The banks were found to have engaged in a practice known as “setoff,” where they took funds from customers’ accounts to pay debts owed to the bank, without first obtaining a court order.

Similarly, corporations have been found to have violated 42 U.S.C. 408 by garnishing the wages of employees who receive Social Security benefits. In 2018, a settlement was reached in a class action lawsuit against Walmart, which had been accused of illegally garnishing the wages of employees who had debts with the company.

The consequences for violating 42 U.S.C. 408 can be severe. Violators may be subject to fines and penalties, and may be required to pay restitution to affected individuals. In addition, violators may be subject to legal action by government agencies, as well as private individuals who have been harmed by the violation.

While there have been cases of banks and corporations violating 42 U.S.C. 408, it is important to note that not all financial institutions or corporations engage in these practices. Many banks and corporations take seriously their responsibility to comply with relevant laws and regulations, and have implemented systems and procedures to ensure compliance.

Overall, the issue of banks and corporations violating 42 U.S.C. 408 is a serious one that requires ongoing attention from regulators, lawmakers, and the public. It is important to ensure that vulnerable individuals are protected from unfair or illegal practices, and that those who violate the law are held accountable for their actions.

42 U.S.C. 408(8), also known as the Anti-Injunction Act, prohibits the garnishment of Social Security benefits. This law was put in place to ensure that individuals who rely on Social Security benefits to meet their basic needs are not left destitute by debt collectors or other creditors.

Despite this law, banks and corporations have been found to violate 42 U.S.C. 408(8) by garnishing Social Security benefits from account holders who owe debts to them. This practice has resulted in financial hardship for many vulnerable individuals, including elderly and disabled Americans who rely solely on Social Security benefits to survive.

In recent years, several banks and corporations have been prosecuted for violating 42 U.S.C. 408(8). In 2015, JP Morgan Chase agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it had illegally garnished the Social Security benefits of more than 100,000 account holders. In 2016, Wells Fargo settled a similar lawsuit for $4.1 million.

Nevada to get $1.7M in national JPMorgan Chase settlement

These lawsuits are a small victory for the individuals who have been harmed by the illegal garnishment of their Social Security benefits. However, they also highlight the ongoing problem of corporations prioritizing their profits over the well-being of their customers.

It is important to note that not all banks and corporations engage in this illegal practice. Many financial institutions have policies in place to ensure that Social Security benefits are not garnished, and some even offer special accounts that are specifically designed for individuals who rely on Social Security benefits.

Additionally, there are laws in place to protect individuals from the garnishment of other types of benefits, including veterans’ benefits, workers’ compensation, and unemployment benefits.

In conclusion, the illegal garnishment of Social Security benefits is a serious issue that affects some of the most vulnerable members of our society. While some banks and corporations have been prosecuted for violating 42 U.S.C. 408(8), more needs to be done to hold those who engage in this practice accountable and to ensure that individuals who rely on Social Security benefits are protected from financial hardship.

  1. “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Fines Wells Fargo $24 Million for Illegal Student Loan Servicing Practices.” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 4 Oct. 2016, www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-fines-wells-fargo-24-million-illegal-student-loan-servicing-practices/.
  2. “JPMorgan Chase Bank to Pay $4.6 Million to Settle Alleged Violations of Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 5 Sep. 2017, www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/jpmorgan-chase-bank-pay-46-million-settle-alleged-violations-servicemembers-civil-relief-act/.
  3. “Walmart Settles Class Action Lawsuit Over Wage Garnishment of Social Security Benefits.” Forbes, 7 Feb. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2018/02/07/walmart-settles-class-action-lawsuit-over-wage-garnishment-of-social-security-benefits/?sh=44dcba011cc5.
  4. “Social Security Benefits Cannot Be Garnished to Pay Debts.” Social Security Administration, 15 Sep. 2021, www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/otherthings-garnish.html.
  5. “42 U.S. Code ยง 408 – Prohibition of Administrative Offset of Social Security Benefits to Collect Overpayment Debts Owed to the United States.” Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School, www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/408.

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