One would hope that terrible, unimaginable circumstances—like the pandemic our country continues to grapple with—would bring out the best in humanity. While we’ve seen many acts of kindness and generosity throughout the past few weeks, there are still countless acts of greed and selfishness. One thing is certain: COVID-19 will not stop debt collectors.
Even under normal circumstances, debt collectors are a source of stress. They will not back down, often resorting to predatory, deceitful tactics to scare hard-working people into surrendering their precious belongings.
Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic has changed very little in these collectors’ conduct. I’ve heard from many people who continue to be pursued for debts. Virus or no virus, the creditors are after their money. They want the car that is behind, even if it’s impossible for millions of unemployed Americans to make ends meet.
Currently, the law empowers debt collectors to seize the federal stimulus checks that were intended to be a lifeline during this moment of unprecedented uncertainty and financial distress. Under the CARES Act, which authorized the stimulus checks, most federal and state debt collectors cannot seize the checks. However, a loophole left private creditors free to pursue the money. And private collectors cover a range of debt: medical bills, credit card bills, student loans, and more.
As you can imagine, unemployed Americans don’t need this right now. There’s already so much uncertainty. Millions face lost jobs or reduced hours.
Some states are leading efforts to protect their residents. A number of governors have signed legislation that prevents the collectors from seizing the checks. Oregon Governor Kate Brown said, “These recovery checks were meant to provide relief, not reward debt collection agencies for preying on Oregonians who have lost their livelihoods.”
Millions of Americans could lose their stimulus checks.
According to recent data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 70 million consumers are in debt or have been contacted about debt.
The cruel irony is that the Americans who are at the greatest risk of losing their stimulus money are also the ones who need it most.
“The folks who owe people money… are the ones at greatest risk. Ironically, those are the same folks who are most in need of the checks and may be most in need of assistance to provide their families shelter, food and medicine,” Brent Adams of the Woodstock Institute, said to ABC News.
We couldn’t agree more, and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help. If you are frightened about the future, know that we are here to fight for you and your family during this time.
Give yourself peace of mind.
There’s no telling how this pandemic will play out. We don’t know what legislation will come, or how debt collectors will respond. But bankruptcy offers some degree of certainty. It gives you freedom that no debt collector can take away. It is still here for you as an option during this difficult time.