Stop Debt Collectors from Seizing your Coronavirus Stimulus Payment

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Debt Collection Problems

Debt collectors are eager to take your Coronavirus stimulus payment. In many cases they will seek to garnish the stimulus money right from your bank account. Congress has not entered any legislation to protect these payments from seizures by debt collectors but there are still a few ways to protect your Covid-19 stimulus payment.

Get a paper check of your Coronavirus stimulus payment instead of using direct deposit

Have the IRS send your stimulus payment, or any other tax refund for that matter, by sending a traditional paper check by mail. That will substantially delay the payment however, so be careful. If you need the money now and it is going to be automatically garnished, get an attorney to file an emergency protective order to protect the stimulus payment from garnishment. When the payment arrives, cash it or take it out of your account as quickly as possible. That would prevent most debt collectors from taking the money in most cases. Use it for the food, medical care, clothing, housing, and other necessities for  which the Covid-19 tax refunds were intended. Even if your bank account is already frozen or being garnished, simply cashing the check will not allow the collection agency to take it. You can check the status of your Covid-19 stimulus payment with the IRS online.

Negotiate with the debt collection agency

Most collection agencies will take your money without any second thoughts. During this Covid-19 panic however, many are likely to be sympathetic to your need for the Coronavirus stimulus payment to go toward food, clothing, rent, mortgage payments, medical care, or other necessities. It can’t hurt to at least try to negotiate time to repay the debt when the crisis ends to to even request a goodwill return of the money if it was already seized.

Its true that most debt collectors, collection agencies, and collection attorneys have hearts of stone and care far more about money than they do about people but some may still do the right thing during this pandemic. If they won’t move on to the options below.      

Object to any seizure of your stimulus check

If you have a garnishment order in place you should immediately file an objection to any seizure of your stimulus check. You may also be able to file for an emergency injunction to prevent the seizure of your Covid-19 stimulus payment. Even if you are trying to negotiate with the collection agency, you must still file an objection or request an injunction.

Coronavirus stimulus payments are supposed to help people pay for necessities such as food, rent, mortgage payments, clothing, and medical care. The Covid-19 payments are not intended to use to pay for past debts. You should therefore object if the money is garnished by a collection agency.

There are likely to be some state protections or exemptions to seizure of stimulus payments issued for national emergencies so check your states laws for other possible ways to argue your payment is exempt from seizure.

Stop collection harassment

Many times the right letter can stop collection harassment. Some debt collectors may also stop garnishments or seizures of your Coronavirus stimulus payment if you send the right letter. Debt validation letters, debt verification letters, and other dispute letters can help stop the seizures. These usually work best before a garnishment is in place but may still be effective if the bank is garnishing your Covid-19 stimulus payment. If you have income that is already exempt from seizure or garnishment such as Social Security disability or other similar exempt income, a properly written exemption notice letter may also get collection agencies to stop a bank garnishment. 

Sue the debt collector

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) you have a right to sue any debt collector, collection agency, or collection attorney that violates your rights. Although this issue is far from clear, the courts should consider any seizure of stimulus payments to be deceptive, unfair, unconscionable, or abusive. The Covid-19 stimulus checks are meant to help American’s survive not line the already bloated pockets of collection agencies. The money should therefore be immune from seizure.   

Use caution however. Don’t go this route alone. Hire an experienced Fair Debt Collection Practices Act litigation attorney. There is no clear ruling from the courts yet that seizing a Coronavirus stimulus payment violates the FDCPA so you want experienced assistance in making these arguments. 

Contact Us Now for a FREE Case Review

If your Coronavirus stimulus payment was already garnished, seized, or frozen by a debt collector, collection agency, or debt collection attorney let us know immediately. We can help stop a garnishment, file an injunction, negotiate with your creditors, or take other action to protect your Covid-19 stimulus payment check. 

Stop Debt Collector Calls at Work

Are you getting debt collector calls at work? You might be surprised how easy it is to stop debt collector calls at work.

Why You Get Debt Collector Calls at Work

It is a common practice among debt collectors and collection attorneys to call consumers at work to collect debt. The reason they do so is because calling a consumer at work is a very effective collection tool. Consumers feel threatened and pressured by debt collector calls at work. The calls at work cause a fear of losing their job or suffering the embarrassment and humiliation of having their personal financial information being exposed to coworkers and supervisors. Debt collectors are keenly aware that putting this kind of pressure on consumers forces a lot of consumers to pay, whether just or not.

Stop Debt Collector Calls at Work

Although it is generally legal for a debt collector or collection attorney to call you at work there are ways you can stop the calls. The first way is to simply tell the debt collector your employer doesn’t allow collection calls at work. Do so only if it is true however. If you are close to your employer or supervisor you could have them tell the debt collector that debt collector calls at work are not allowed. Either way the debt collection agency is on notice to cease any further calls to you at work. If the collector continues calling you at work after it knows your employer doesn’t allow collection calls at work it is violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

The more drastic way to stop debt collector calls at work is to send the collector a letter notifying it to cease all further communication with you. This is drastic because a cease communications letter stops the collector from contacting you by any means at any place. The debt collector calls at work have to stop but so do the collection calls to your home and cell phone. The collection agency is even required to stop sending you letters to collect the debt.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act the collector must stop most additional contact with you after it receives a cease communications letter. The only contact the debt collector can have with a consumer after it receives a cease communications letter is to notify the consumer that its collection efforts are being terminated or that it may invoke a specified remedy against the consumer. The cease communications letter may also prompt the debt collector or collection attorney to sue you so please contact a consumer protection attorney before taking this drastic step.

Stop Debt Collector Calls to Your Employer

Sometimes debt collectors and collection attorneys contact your employer rather than you. Calls to your employer or coworkers can be even more stressful, embarrassing, and humiliating than typical collection calls. Fortunately, under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act debt collectors and collection attorneys can only call a third party to acquire or confirm location information and they can only do so once. That means that if the debt collector calls your employer or coworker it cannot do it again. If it does it is breaking the FDCPA and you can sue the debt collector. And you don’t have to send a cease communication letter for this prohibition to apply. The FDCPA prohibits a second communication to your employer or coworker without any further action on your part.

Sue Debt Collectors

If the debt collector or collection attorney continues calling you at work after you tell it your employer doesn’t allow collection calls or after you send a cease communication letter your best way to stop the collection calls at work is to sue. If the debt collector calls your employer or coworker more than once an unfair debt collection lawsuit is also an excellent way to stop the abuse. If you are reluctant to sue that’s okay. Just keep in mind that the collection attorney is not reluctant to sue you nor are they reluctant to abuse, harass, or humiliate you.


Fortunately stopping collection calls to your employer or coworkers is usually easy. First, tell the debt collector to stop calling you at work and that your employer does not allow collection calls. If the collector calls after that notification they are violating the FDCPA. If the debt collector calls your employer or coworkers more than once or even just once to do anything other than acquire or verify location information they are also violating the FDCPA. If either violation occurs, filing a debt collection lawsuit to stop the debt collector calls at work is probably your best option.

If you have questions about these and other possible Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations please feel free to contact us for assistance.

How to Sue Debt Collectors: Tricks and Traps

So you want to a sue debt collector? Suing debt collectors is not as easy as it sounds. There are numerous pitfalls and barriers that can trap unwary consumers.

The first issue to be concerned about when suing a debt collector or collection agency is whether or not you have a good case. Debt collectors frequently violate the law but many of those violations are merely technical and are not, by themselves, good legal claims. For example, debt collectors often fail to place the required “mini-Miranda” warning on written correspondence or fail to validate the debt at issue.   While these acts are violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and do give you the right to sue debt collectors they are not particularly compelling and unlikely to lead to a high damage award since there is little to no actual damage for the collector’s failure.  Most consumer protection attorneys will not even take these types of cases due to the relatively low value compared with the high cost to litigate cases.

You also need to be sure you are suing a debt collector. The original creditor is generally not subject to the FDCPA and therefore can take many steps to collect debt that debt collectors cannot. There are laws to protect you from abuse by the original creditor but suing under those laws is more complicated and expensive than suing debt collectors under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Another trap is the bona fide error defense. Most, if not all, debt collectors will assert this defense like clockwork. It is generally asserted reflexively whether it actually applies or not but if the debt collector can prove its FDCPA violations were the result of a bona fide error it will not be held liable to you for those violations.

Another concern is that in many cases debt collectors will file counter-claims against you for the debt at issue. This is a powerful tactic and will keep many people from filing cases against debt collectors. Counter-claims may be difficult or impossible to overcome in many cases. There are ways to win on the counter-claim but unless the statute of limitations on the debt has run, the debt is fully repaid, or you never legally owed the debt in the first place you are likely to lose. Another problem with counter-claims is that the statute of limitations on an FDCPA case is only one year while the statute of limitations to collect the debt is almost always longer, depending on how old the debt is when the debt collection violations occurred.

There are numerous other issues to be aware of when suing debt collectors for unfair debt collection practices. To be certain you have a good case you should generally consult a consumer rights attorney. If you have a case worth filing they will typically take it on a contingency basis so you only pay if you recover an award and the fees you pay will come out of that reward. In addition to the probability of a higher award with an attorney representing you, there is also a tremendous amount of satisfaction in making an abusive debt collector pay for your attorney.

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