The Investigators: DCFS garnishes wrong person's wages, again

The Investigators: DCFS garnishes wrong person's wages, again

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One man claims the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services continues to take money for child support, despite him being the wrong Johnathan Smith.

Problem is that Smith's name is spelled the same way as another Johnathan Smith, who actually does owe child support.

In November 2015, Smith first reached out to the Investigators asking for help. Smith is married and the couple has three children together. He has no other children.

Back then, because DCFS had him confused with the other Smith, they wrongly garnished his paycheck for child support.

"After I talked to you guys, probably later on that day or next day, got a call saying everything would be fixed and they got my money back within a week," said Smith.

Then in January 2016, Smith received a letter from DCFS telling him the matter went before court reading "the court has been notified that you were the incorrect party to be served."

He thought the matter was resolved, that is until he filed his taxes. When he went online to check the status of his return, a screen popped up reading, "Your refund has been applied to a past due obligation such as child support, another federal agency debt, or state income tax."

Smith said he immediately started making calls.

Smith: They gave me a number to contact and it was like a direct line to contact the child support department for this matter.
Kiran: What was your reaction when you heard that?
Smith: I was just like, again? After I got a letter saying all this is over again, it'll never happen again, but here we are again.

And all the while, despite DCFS saying the matter is now resolved, he received another letter from Tangipahoa Parish saying Smith needs to be in court in March on yet another child support case.

"I'm really upset. I've been calm and tried to be the nice guy that ok maybe it was a mistake, but now it's really going too far, like they took everything," said Smith.

He said the previous incidents where they garnished his check last year set him behind on bills so he was counting on his tax return to catch up. Now though, not only is his return held up, but he's spending even more because he's looking to sue DCFS.

"This is my livelihood they're messing with. This is putting me behind on my bills, messing with my credit because I'm behind on my car note, everything," said Smith.

Just two hours after his interview with the Investigators, Smith called 9News and said that DCFS called him saying they had a "computer glitch" because they made the correction in their computer system, but that the updated information may not have forwarded over to the IRS. They told him they are now working to get him his refund check.

The Investigators reached out to DCFS requesting an interview and received a statement instead:

"Federal regulations do not allow us to discuss federal tax information with anyone unless authorized by law. We have reached out to Mr. Smith to discuss his concerns and they are being handled."

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