Protect Your Stimulus Payment from Collectors
May 21, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has put an enormous strain on almost every aspect of our Nation. Everyone has felt the effects that this pandemic has caused on the economy. Businesses have closed temporarily, while others have closed their doors, not know if they will be able to reopen in the future. People have lost jobs and their sources of income, and the uncertainty of how this will end is wearing people down. On top of all that, is the stress that millions of Americans are feeling from the increase in their personal debt. The announcement of a federal stimulus package was welcomed news by many people. However, as details of the stimulus payment continue to come forth, there is missing language surrounding protection from debt collectors.
Can your stimulus payment be taken by collectors to cover your debts?
While many Americans are still waiting for their stimulus check to arrive, many others are worried that it will be taken away. The CARES Act did not include a provision to protect debt collectors or creditors in bankruptcy. Some states have made their own provisions, preventing debt collection from stimulus payments, yet the Treasury Department has given no specific guidance concerning the issue. Those most at risk during this financial crisis could be the ones that suffer the most. The stimulus payments were designed to assist people in paying bills and providing necessities for their families, yet they could be taken away.
How to Protect Your Payment
According to Nolo.com, most creditors cannot take money from your bank account just because you’ve fallen behind on a payment. But some can. If you have a tax lien, you will most likely lose the deposited funds. If you bank with the same institution that issued your credit card or car loan and you are behind on payments, the bank can use a “set off” clause in your credit contract to extract money from our account and apply it to past-due obligations.
In order to protect your payment, here are 3 steps you can take:
- Opt for a mailed stimulus check. When you receive it, cash it immediately.
- If money is directly deposited to your account, withdraw your stimulus payment as soon as possible.
- Spend the stimulus cash on necessary items such as food, utilities, mortgage payment, or rent – and keep good records of this spending.
This is an unprecedented time in our Nation. The uncertainty of America’s economy is impacting almost all citizens. Because the CARES Act is new and courts have yet to weigh in, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Contact George R. Belche, Attorney at Law, today for assistance navigating this difficult time.
George R. Belche, Attorney at Law
Lawrenceville, GA 30046