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SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a coalition of 25 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) to take immediate action to ensure that emergency monetary relief authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act) will not be subject to garnishment by creditors or debt collectors. The CARES Act was enacted last month by Congress to provide emergency assistance and healthcare response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Today’s letter urges Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to use his authority to designate CARES Act payments as exempt from garnishment.
“We are calling on the U.S. Department of the Treasury to act immediately to protect the financial well-being of Americans during the COVID-19 emergency,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Families are relying on the monetary aid provided by the CARES Act to keep them afloat during these difficult times. These emergency funds are meant to help our families and communities, not to line the pockets of debt collectors.”
As part of the CARES Act, the Treasury Department has been authorized to issue stimulus payments called “Economic Impact Payments” to qualifying individuals whose income is below $75,000. The payments are in the amounts of $1,200 for an adult and $500 for a child. These payments, however, are not exempt from garnishment under the CARES Act and, as a result, are subject to creditor and debt collection. In the letter, the coalition urges the Treasury to use its authority to safeguard these stimulus payments from collectors and ensure that hard hit Americans retain their critical monetary relief.
In submitting the letter, Attorney General Becerra is joined by the attorneys general of New York, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection.
A copy of the letter can be found here.