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Osaka gov't wrongly seizes money from woman with same name, age as delinquent payer

The Osaka Municipal Government office is seen in Kita Ward, Osaka, on March 18, 2019. (Mainichi/Yukiko Hayashi)

OSAKA -- A woman living outside this west Japan city had funds seized in error from her bank account after she was mistaken for a Tennoji Ward resident with the same name and date of birth who is behind on her national health insurance premiums, the Osaka Municipal Government announced on Feb. 19.

    The woman noticed that her savings account balance had fallen, and the issue came to light on Feb. 18 when she contacted the city government. They apologized to her, and on Feb. 19 the seizure of funds was reversed.

    According to the city government, when its debt collection measures department relayed information on the delinquent payer's name, date of birth and address to the banks and made inquiries about her account details, an advisory that the addresses didn't match came up. The department then communicated the issue to the Tennoji Ward Office's counter services section.

    In the event that addresses differ, the counter services section must confirm whether or not it is the person's bank account, based on address records and other data. But an official at the section reportedly assumed the municipal debt collection measures department had already completed the check, and on Feb. 10 the outstanding 99,364 yen (about $942) was seized from the wrong woman's account.

    To stop a reoccurrence of the recent incident, a manual for how to administrate similar cases will be drawn up, and training carried out. The deputy manager of the ward office's counter services section said, "We apologize for causing a significant inconvenience to the affected individual. We will be enacting a response to prevent further detriments arising."

    (Japanese original by Koki Matsumoto, Osaka Science & Environment News Department)

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