Can Debt Collectors Take Your Stimulus Check

Debt collectors are not allowed to take your stimulus check. The stimulus check is a payment from the government to help people during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not considered income, so it cannot be used to pay debts. If a debt collector tries to take your stimulus check, you should report them to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB is a government agency that protects consumers from unfair and abusive practices.

Exceptions to Stimulus Check Protection

While stimulus checks are generally protected from debt collectors, there are some exceptions to this rule:

  • Child support or alimony payments: Debt collectors can garnish stimulus checks to collect past-due child support or alimony payments.
  • Tax debts: If you owe back taxes to the IRS, the IRS can seize your stimulus check.
  • Federal student loans: Debt collectors for federal student loans can garnish stimulus checks to collect past-due payments.

Additional Notes:

  1. Debt collectors cannot garnish stimulus checks directly from your bank account.
  2. If a debt collector is attempting to garnish your stimulus check, you should contact a lawyer to discuss your options.
  3. The IRS has a program called the Fresh Start Initiative that can help taxpayers who are struggling to repay their tax debts.
Type of DebtCan Debt Collectors Garnish Stimulus Checks?
Credit card debtNo
Medical debtNo
Payday loansNo
Child support or alimonyYes
Tax debtsYes
Federal student loansYes

Garnishments and Levy Rules

Garnishments and levies are legal actions that allow debt collectors to seize your property or income to satisfy a debt. However, there are specific rules that limit what debt collectors can do.

Types of income that are protected from garnishment

  • Social Security benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Veterans benefits
  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Unemployment benefits

Stimulus checks are considered tax refunds and are therefore protected from garnishment.

Limits on the amount of income that can be garnished

The amount of income that can be garnished varies depending on the type of debt and the state in which you live. In general, the following limits apply:

  • For most debts, the maximum amount that can be garnished is 25% of your disposable income.
  • For child support and alimony, the maximum amount that can be garnished is 50% of your disposable income.

How to protect your stimulus check from garnishment

If you are concerned about your stimulus check being garnished, you can take the following steps:

  • Contact your creditors and explain your situation. They may be willing to work with you to create a payment plan that does not include garnishment.
  • If you have a judgment against you, you can file a motion with the court to have the garnishment stopped.

Levies

A levy is a legal action that allows a debt collector to seize your property. This can include your bank account, wages, or other assets. Unlike garnishments, levies are not limited to income.

Stimulus checks are generally not subject to levy because they are considered tax refunds.

Type of DebtGarnishment LimitLevy Limit
Most debts25% of disposable incomeNo limit
Child support and alimony50% of disposable incomeNo limit

Reporting Stimulus Check Issues to the Treasury Department

If your stimulus check was garnished by a debt collector, make a complaint to the Treasury Department. You can file a complaint online, by phone, or by mail. The Treasury Department is responsible for issuing stimulus checks and investigates all complaints about improper garnishment.

  • File a complaint online: You can file a complaint online at the Treasury Department’s website.
  • File a complaint by phone: You can file a complaint by phone at 800-919-9835.
  • File a complaint by mail: You can file a complaint by mail at the following address:

    Bureau of the Fiscal Service
    P.O. Box 713
    Highland Park, MD 20791

    When you file a complaint, you will need to provide the following information:

    Your nameYour addressYour phone numberYour email address
    The amount of your stimulus checkThe date you received your stimulus checkThe name of the debt collector who garnished your stimulus checkThe amount of the garnishment

    The Treasury Department will investigate your complaint and respond to you within 60 days.

    Well, folks, we hope this little chat has helped you navigate the stormy waters of stimulus check protection. Remember, knowledge is power, and the more you know about your rights, the better equipped you’ll be to keep your hard-earned cash from falling into the hands of debt collectors. Thanks for dropping by, and don’t forget to swing by again for more essential financial tips. Keep your head up, your wallet full, and your spirits high!