Protecting Stimulus Checks From Garnishment

Americans are currently in the grip of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. It has cost many their jobs and livelihoods, leaving them wondering how they are going to pay rent, or even buy groceries. Federal legislatures have recognized this and so, on March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump, giving many people a little relief in this uncertain and unprecedented time. However, for those that have judgment issued against them, the checks they are expecting may not provide much help at all. They may still be in fear of measures being taken against them, such as the seizure or freezing of their bank account. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure that does not happen.

What Is the CARES Act?

The CARES Act is a short form for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economy Security Act. It was introduced into the United States Senate by Mitch McConnell and is intended to help with the economic fallout of the current pandemic sweeping the country, along with the rest of the world.

The Act provides help to small businesses, individuals currently on unemployment, and Americans below a certain income level. Individuals who earn $75,000 or less will receive a check for $1,200, while those with children will receive $500 per child. Individuals who earn between $75,000 and $99,000 will still receive a check, although it will be lower than $1,200. Americans who receive over $99,000 will not receive a check at all.

Garnishment for Debts to the Government

Although the checks will bring relief to some, it has many in fear that they will not actually receive the money. Or, rather, that they will but that it will soon be taken from them through a wage garnishment bank seizure. This is because when a person owes money to the state or federal government, that government body is entitled to take certain steps, such as garnishing that person’s wages or seizing their bank accounts.

Of course, because the stimulus checks are going to be delivered right to Americans, it is not possible for the government to garnish a person’s wages and receive any of the stimulus money. However, a government entity still could seize a person’s bank account, giving them access to the stimulus money. Fortunately, there are ways to stop this from happening.

Steps the Federal Government Can Take

The stimulus checks are similar to other funds that are protected from being seized by a government body. For example, Social Security checks are protected from being seized because the U.S. Treasury adds a special code onto them that prevents seizure. The funds are protected automatically because the bank’s system recognizes the code. By implementing these measures onto the stimulus checks, these funds could be protected in the same way.

Steps the State and Municipal Governments Could Take

The federal government is not the only body that could take steps to ensure that stimulus checks are not seized. They could halt the enforcement of all new and existing garnishment orders. This would not only help all Americans keep more of their stimulus checks, but would also provide them with additional relief. Bank accounts that were getting garnished or seized before may not, providing many households with additional funds during this very difficult time.

Halting the garnishment of all debts a person owes to the state or municipal government is certainly one of the easiest and quickest steps local governments could take. This is because they have full control over these debts, and order could easily be issued as such.

Steps Americans Can Take

Of course, it is Americans who will be most directly affected by the stimulus checks, and who are the most concerned about losing them to a garnishment. These same individuals may also not want to trust the government to take the necessary steps to protect them. Fortunately, there are steps Americans can take after they receive their stimulus checks to ensure that it is not garnished.

One step individuals can take is to withhold direct deposit information from the state and the federal government. Naturally, this only applies to people that have not already provided these government agencies with this information. If the government agency does not already have that information, they will have to issue a hard copy of the check, and therefore it will be harder to garnish it for any past judgments.

It is also best to not deposit the check and leave it in the bank account for a period of time. After all, the longer the check is in the account, the more susceptible it is to being garnished. When possible, the check can be deposited into an ATM and then pulled out right away. If banks are still open in a local area, individuals can also simply cash the check, so it never sits in the bank account at all.

There are also several exemptions to state law that outline which funds cannot be garnished from a bank account. Many of these exemptions apply if the stimulus check is deposited into a bank account that has already been garnished. Additionally, public benefits and cash in bank accounts are also sometimes exempt from garnishment, and there are wildcard exemptions as well.

Lastly, individuals can also apply for an emergency stay of any garnishment order, which would also halt the order for judgment and protect the stimulus funds.

Our Florida Debt Defense Lawyers Can Help

If you have a garnishment order that has been issued against you, our Fort Lauderdale debt defense lawyers can help ensure you keep the stimulus funds you receive during this difficult time. We can help apply for an emergency stay so your funds are protected, and outline other steps that may be available, as well. If you have received a stimulus check and are now worried that you will not receive the funds you need, call us at (954) 523-HELP (4357) or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with one of our attorneys. This is a tough time for everyone, and we want to help make it a little easier.

Loan Lawyers has helped over 5,000 South Florida homeowners and consumers with their debt problems, we have saved over 2,000 homes from foreclosure, eliminated more than $100,000,000 in mortgage principal and consumer debt, and have recovered over $10,000,000 on behalf of our clients due to bank, loan servicer, and debt collector violations.  Contact us for a free consultation and find out more about our money-back guarantee on credit card debt buyer lawsuits, and how we may be able to help you.