Friday, September 22, 2023

Can Debt Collectors Take Your Stimulus Check

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Can Creditors Take Your Stimulus Check Out Of Your Bank Account

Debt collectors can take money directly from stimulus payments

Delinquent Loan Debt: Yes The same is true for any type of loan or other delinquent debt. If the creditor has gone through the process of suing you and has obtained a judgment, they can move on to levy your accounts. That means any stimulus money deposited into those accounts may be subject to garnishment.

Close Your Bank Account

If your check hasnt hit your account yet but its scheduled for direct deposit, you could close your bank account. This would cause the IRS to send your check via snail mail, which prevents it from being garnished. If you take this route, then youre likely looking at a delay in your payment arrival so, thats something to consider as well.

Your Third Stimulus Payment Cant Be Seized To Pay Child Support

Under the CARES Act from March 2020, your first stimulus check could be seized by state and federal agencies to cover past-due child support. That rule changed for the second stimulus check, which couldnât be taken if you owe money for child support. And like the second check, your third check cannot be taken to pay overdue child support.

According to the text of the bill, payments will not be subject to reduction or offset for past-due federal or state debts, or by other assessed federal taxes that would otherwise be subject to collection. However, if you end up having any money missing from your third check and have to claim it on your tax return next year, that money could be subject to garnishment . The best thing to do is to file your 2020 tax return as soon as possible, so the IRS has your most recent information on file.

People with children will benefit from other aspects of the bill outside of the third stimulus check. For example, updates to the Child Tax Credit increase the existing amount to as much as $3,600 per child. There are also some other tax breaks to take advantage of, including for child care.

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Stimulus Checks: Debt Collectors Can Garnish Your $1400 Payment

Many Americans waiting on the third round of stimulus checks may find their payments going to debt collectors instead.

The new $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” signed into law on Thursday doesn’t prevent stimulus payments from being garnished. While lawmakers tried to include a provision protecting the payments, the way the legislation was passed through budget reconciliation didn’t allow for its inclusion.

“It would be terrible if money that Congress authorized to help feed families, take care of people who are struggling…was grabbed by debt collectors to pay ancient debts,” Lauren Saunders, associate director of National Consumer Law Center, told Yahoo Money. “That’s not why we’re enacting this extraordinary relief.”

Around 158.5 million households are expected to receive a payment under the new stimulus deal, according to the White House.

The first $1,200 stimulus checks in the spring weren’t protected from private garnishment or child support, while the second payments of $600 were fully protected. Some states enacted their own protections against garnishment for the first round.

Any private debt collector that has a judgment against you can garnish the latest round of payments. Credit card and medical debt are the two most likely to be collected by debtors, according to Saunders. Stimulus checks may also be garnished by debt collectors for unpaid private student loans in some circumstances.

Aarthi Swaminathan contributed reporting.

Read more:

Payments Immune From Back Taxes But Not Outstanding Debts

Can Debt Collectors Take Your Stimulus Check?

Under law, the second $600 economic stimulus payment was excluded from being seized towards the repayment of a judgement. However, the same exemption was not granted for the latest round of $1,400 payments arriving in bank accounts this week.

Although the IRS cannot claim the payments towards back taxes, all a debt collector needs to do is to prove it has a judgement against an individual. Without question, the money could be taken by debt collectors for state taxes, credit card debts or unpaid medical bills.

The American Bankers Association is among the groups asking Congress to close the loophole and allow Americans to use the money for their living needs. In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the ABA joined 18 other groups demanding legislation to protect the extra cash.

Find: What Are the Key Money Lessons From COVID-19 That We Need to Keep Moving Forward?

Many people were already struggling prior to the coronavirus crisis and millions have now been laid off or had their hours cut, the letter reads. Allowing economic impact payments to be garnished could impose significant burdens on some families, especially those in communities of color, facing unprecedented circumstances.

Legislators are promising to introduce additional laws which would prevent this third stimulus check from being taken by debt collectors. However, because it was not introduced prior to the payments dropping into accounts, it could be a case of too little, too late.

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Californians: Debt Collectors Cant Take Your Stimulus Check

All around the country, Americans are receiving a new round of American Rescue Plan payments in their bank accounts only, in many states, to have the payments seized by debt collectors. Fortunately, Californians do not have to worry. A year ago, in April 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to prevent debt collectors from seizing payments under the CARES Act or any other later pandemic relief payments like the ones the federal government is sending out now.

Governor Newsoms order was issued to protect the CARES Act payments from March 2020, but it also explicitly shields from garnishment or levy any other federal-, state-, or local-government financial assistance made available to individuals in express response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The only exceptions are for child and spousal support, and criminal restitution.

In Congress, Senators Ron Wyden and Sherrod Brown attempted to pass federal legislation to protect the payments from being garnished by private debt collectors, but the bill was blocked

The March 2020 $1200 CARES Act payments were protected from state and federal government garnishment, and the $600 payments from December were shielded against all creditors. Unfortunately, because of quirks in the reconciliation process used to pass the American Rescue Plan, the most recent payments did not receive the same protection.

California, to the relief of millions of its residents, has already done so.

Can Debt Collectors Take Your Coronavirus Stimulus Payment

With 20.5 million Americans out of work due to coronavirus shutdowns, Congress passed the CARES Act, which gave many people a $1,200 stimulus to help them get by during tough times. As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, many people are still struggling to pay regular bills those that are deeply in debt are in even worse shape. If this describes your situation, you may wonder if your creditors may swipe that stimulus check out from under you. Are debt collectors authorized to take your coronavirus stimulus payment to pay outstanding debts?

The short answer is maybe.

In this article, well explore situations where that may or may not be the case.

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Q How Do I Get Stimulus Money From Renters I Had To Evict

A. You cant, unless you already have a court order in place at their bank.

You have to have a court order in Georgia, Rackliffe said, an order from the court is what a bank is going to look for, because you cant just go to the bank and get money thats from somebody elses account. Clearly, that cant happen.

The garnishment laws on stimulus checks are complex. Some states protect stimulus checks from garnishment. Georgia allows private lenders to use the courts to seize stimulus checks from people with delinquent debt.

It depends on how much you owe, how long youve owed it, and what the court order says youve got to pay, Rackliffe explained. The issue of garnishment only comes about if you are behind. So if you but are current , and you are in good standing, then that is not a problem.

Generally, Professor Rackliffe said, a bank needs to see a court order before letting a private creditor into a debtors bank account to seize their stimulus check.

How Can Debt Collectors Seize Stimulus Checks

Can Debt Collectors Take Your Stimulus Check?

Private debt collectors can legally seize $1,400 federal stimulus payments from people who have unpaid credit card bills or outstanding medical expenses. Companies that are owed money have the ability to seek a court order to garnish the bank accounts of check recipients who have had their checks direct deposited.

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Q I Have Old Credit Card Debt Plus Old Unpaid Medical Bills Will The Creditors Seize My Stimulus Check

A. Maybe, IF the creditors already have a court order placing a claim or freeze on your bank account.

Yes, debt collectors can, in fact – if they have a court order – try to tap into the money through the bank account, said Professor Usha Rackliffe, with the Goizueta Business School at Emory University in Atlanta.

A stimulus check can be garnished by any private debt collector seeking payment from a debtor in Georgia.

When Congress passed the latest COVID relief stimulus plan, the legislation made a distinction between private debt – money owed to credit card companies, hospitals, school tuition lenders, for example – and government debt, such as back taxes and delinquent child support payments.

Professor Rackliffe said the previous stimulus checks, issued this past December, were protected from any and all garnishment by both private and government creditors.

But Rackliffe said that under the new federal law governing the current stimulus payments, private debt collectors can garnish a debtors stimulus check, but government debt collectors cannot.

Which is what this viewer asked:

Finding Out If A Creditor Has A Money Judgment

Most people know whether a creditor has a money judgment against them, but it’s not always the case. Here are a few ways you can find out.

  • Check your credit report. You’re entitled to one free copy per year from each of the three major reporting agencies at
  • Research court records for judgments. If you find one, check whether it’s too old to enforce . If it is and the creditor hasn’t renewed it, you’ll be in the clear.
  • Check for liens. In some states, creditors must “perfect” lien rightsâor establish their ownership interest in property until a debt is repaidâby filing the court judgment in the recorder’s office or with the secretary of state . If you find a money judgment lien, you’ll know you have a creditor who means business.

Important Tip. Creditors have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against you under laws called “statute of limitations.” If a creditor files an action after the limitation period expires, you’ll have to ask the court to dismiss the case by filing a motionâstatute of limitation dismissals don’t happen automatically.

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Defaulted Federal Student Loans

When federal student loans are in default, the government has powerful collections tools at its disposal. In particular, the federal government can intercept or offset federal payments such as federal tax refunds and Social Security benefits and apply them towards your defaulted student loans.

However, the CARES Act which Congress and President Trump enacted into law last year temporarily suspended all collections activities on defaulted government-held federal student loans. President Biden subsequently extended that moratorium to September 30, 2021. As a result, debt collectors acting on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education should not offset or intercept stimulus payments to satisfy defaulted government-held federal student loans.

How To Keep That Check Safe

Debt collectors could take your coronavirus stimulus check money

There are two ways to make sure that stimulus check reaches you and that you can use it for your needs. The first method is to redirect the payment to another bank account that you know is free of overdrafts and away from any bank where you have an account in arrears. The second is not to have it sent to a bank at all, but to wait the extra time out for a paper check. The first paper checks should be in the mailbox to people making up to $20,000 per year by May 1st, then those making up to $40,000 by May 15th, and so on in higher bands up to September 11th. A paper stimulus check mailed to you cannot be intercepted and thus will go right into whatever need you have for it.

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Coronavirus Stimulus Payments And Debt Collection

People who are overwhelmed by debt during the COVID-19 outbreak may be concerned about whether they can keep their stimulus check. This is a one-time economic impact payment issued by the federal government.

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of March 2020, the first stimulus payment consisted of up to $1,200 for eligible individual taxpayers and up to $2,400 for eligible married couples filing jointly, plus a $500 bonus for each child 16 or younger. These funds could be placed in each recipients bank account by direct deposit or sent by mail.

Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 , signed on December 27, 2020, a second stimulus payment of $600 was distributed to eligible taxpayers. To qualify for the entire $600 stimulus payment, individuals must have earned less than $75,000 in 2019, and couples must have earned less than $150,000 in 2019. After these income thresholds, the payment was phased downward. Eligible taxpayers also received $600 per dependent child 16 or younger. For example, a family of four earning less than $150,000 received $2,400 total. These funds could be direct deposited or sent by mail.

Can Creditors Access Stimulus Payments?

Of note, ARPA does not protect stimulus payments from garnishment by private creditors, as the CAA did. However, ARPA payments are protected from garnishment by the IRS and government agencies, such as child support agencies.

When a Levy Happens

Stimulus Payments and Bankruptcy

You Don’t Have To File A Tax Return To Qualify For A Third Stimulus Check But

Though taxes do play a role in determining stimulus check eligibility, you don’t need to have filed a tax return to qualify for a check. If you’re over age 65, for example, and receive Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance, you could still qualify for a first, second and third stimulus check. But in some cases, you would have needed to take an extra step, and you will now if you’re still waiting on your full payment. If you didn’t receive some or all of the money you were entitled to, people in this group, termed nonfilers, will have to file a tax return to receive any missing stimulus payment.

The best thing to do to ensure that the IRS has your information on file and potentially speed up how fast you get your third check is to file a 2020 tax return now.

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Was The First Stimulus Check Protected From Creditors

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was passed in March of 2020 by the Trump administration and is protected against seizures for federal debts. Unfortunately, however, they are still eligible to be taken to settle personal private debts you may have accumulated over time. Once the funds have been deposited in your bank account, debt collectors may be able to access these funds through either a garnishment or levy before you have a chance to withdraw.

There are types of debts that are not able to be collected without the debt collector going to court. Some of the most common reasons for garnishment or a levy are student loans, tax liens, and debt to financial institutions. Other types of debts cant be forcibly collected unless the creditor chooses to sue and the judge decides in their favor. These debts include rent, credit card debt, and medical debt.

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Private Debt Collectors Can Seize Your $1400 Stimulus Check To Pay Creditors

Can collectors take your March stimulus check?

WASHINGTON Heres a warning for you: If youre set to receive the $1,400 stimulus payment, debt collectors will be able to come after your money if you have unpaid debt.

Under the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, debt collectors will be able to garnish your stimulus check, which was blocked in the language of the first two stimulus relief bills.

Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate were unable to include language that explicitly protects people from debt collectors in the latest stimulus relief bill because of the budgetary rules under which the bill was approved.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden issued a statement on the matter.

The two previous relief payments were shielded from predatory private debt collectors. While Democrats intend to protect the third payment from private debt collectors, Senate rules did not allow us to include that protection in the American Rescue Plan. I will be introducing standalone legislation to ensure families receive their much-needed relief payments, Wyden said.

The American Bankers Association urged lawmakers to provide such protection before the passage of the package.

Biden signed the American Rescue Plan one of the largest stimulus measures in U.S. history in a brief Oval Office ceremony Thursday.

Nearly 160 million households are expected to get payments, according to White House estimates.

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Debt Collectors & Your Stimulus

Whether or not a debt collector can take your stimulus check does depend on a few things. The biggest one is which stimulus check it is. In most situations, you shouldnt have to worry about your stimulus money being seized. You have legal protections for the ARPA and CARES stimulus checks stating that they can only be taken for private debts, but not all private debts. The CAA payment is only able to be taken by your bank to cover any debts you may owe them.

Luckily, in order for a debt collector to be able to take any funds from your account, they will need to go to court and see a judge first. No funds are able to be withdrawn without express approval from a judge. Furthermore, if you are in good standing , they are not able to touch your stimulus money. There are even states in which nobody is legally allowed to remove your money, no matter what type of debt you may be in.

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