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Debt collectors promise not to ‘target’ your IRS stimulus check. You trust them, right?

Debt collectors say they have too much “compassion and empathy for consumers” to take advantage of them during the coronavirus pandemic.

Debt collectors promise not to ‘target’ your IRS stimulus check. You trust them, right?
[Photo: Ricardo Aguilera/Unsplash; NeONBRAND/Unsplash]
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Following reports last week that the IRS stimulus checks meant to help taxpayers stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic could legally be seized by banks, debt collectors want you to know that they would never, ever do such a thing.

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You trust debt collectors, right? Well, ACA International—the trade group that represents them—has put out a statement to “set the record straight,” calling out “false claims” that the industry would specifically target stimulus payments as a means to collect on past-due bills.

For one thing, debt collectors would not even know whether or not someone actually received a stimulus check, the group says. (Only your bank knows for sure.) More important, ACA says, debt collectors simply have too much “compassion and empathy for consumers” to take advantage of them when they are vulnerable, although any consumer who has ever been on the receiving end of a collection call may disagree.

“ACA members remain committed to helping consumers work through individual financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the group’s CEO, Mark Neeb, said in a statement. “It is important that any new policies created responding to this crisis provide consumers with more options that will allow them to continue to access credit and services, and put financial decisions into their hands, which comes through two-way communication.”

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Neeb continued that line of defense in a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, calling garnishment one “very small tool” for creditors that is typically used only as a last resort. “In the rare event that stimulus funds are garnished, consumers have ample opportunity to have those funds returned, particularly if they have been directly impacted by COVID-19,” he added.

Have you been on the receiving end of aggressive debt-collection attempts since the start of the coronavirus pandemic? I’m interested in hearing your story. Email me at czara@fastcompany.com

About the author

Christopher Zara is a senior staff news editor for Fast Company and obsessed with media, technology, business, culture, and theater. Before coming to FastCo News, he was a deputy editor at International Business Times, a theater critic for Newsweek, and managing editor of Show Business magazine

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