Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Reader denounces embargo of €97.53 from his bank account without receiving any notification

JIMENA A reader of CampoPulse who wishes to remain anonymous came to us a couple of weeks ago with a piece of paper (image) that explained the reason an amount of €97.53 was removed from his bank account without his knowledge or permission. It was apparently for a minor traffic offence in August 2011(!). The money was taken out of his account, via an embargo, on December 31, 2012, but, although he had been away from his home in Spain for about the six months prior to that date, he had never received any kind of notification, either about the fine or about the embargo for the amount, plus charges. His mail was picked up and forwarded weekly during the time he was away. He wonders if this is legal, so we went to find out.>>>
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We consulted two sources, one of which specializes in traffic matters, the other a lawyer who used to work for the provincial tax collector (Servicio de Recaudación Provincial). Both agreed that the way the money was removed is legal, and both question whether it is right.

Apparently, even though the traffic offence was not notified to the driver at the time it happened, the procedure is that it is notified in person at the perpetrator's address on two separate occasions, different days and times of day. Both sources agree that there should be some way of knowing if and when a visit has been carried out, and suggested a piece of paper in the mail or letter box saying that a notification is waiting for attention at the local Recaudación office, giving a reference number to speed things up. As it is, if there is no reply, the notification goes straight to the local tax collector's without further ado.

Another process now begins.

The image shows two separate things: at the top is a print-out given at the tax office when our reader went to find out what it was all about. It shows several dates, including a blank one for Notification. The next is Fecha (Date) Paso a Ejecutiva, which means collection procedure begins; the next is Providencia de Apremio, or 'Notification of enforced collection action'; the next is Providencia Embargo, or 'Notification of embargo' (A definition of embargo: 'Withholding of goods by an administration or judicial order, pending a court order or formal sentence'). We now have three different notifications, each with their dates.

And then comes The Big One, marked in orange above: publication in the Official Provincial Bulletin (BOP).

This is the final notice, and the thing the tax collector clings to: if you can't be found, this is where you should look. The logic of that sentence admits that nobody reads the BOP unless they absolutely have to. We did, and, indeed, the 'perpetrator' is there on the day it says, September 5, 2012.

So, there is not a lot of wriggle room here, and it is hardly worth going to court for the amount of money involved. Yet the suggestion made by our sources about leaving a piece of paper during the supposed first visits makes a lot of sense - unless your coffers are empty and you have to do almost anything to fill them.


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