Washington State Issues Proclamation Regulating Debt Collection

Add Washington to the growing list of states and territories that have taken action to regulate debt collection activities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a number of executive orders yesterday aimed at protecting consumers and the rights of prisoners and law enforcement.

For the credit and collection industry, the order that is most relevant is one that suspends a number of state statutes that permit collection of consumer debt judgments, including bank account and wage garnishments and waives accrual of post-judgment interest on consumer debt judgments during the period of the order. A copy of the executive order, which will remain in effect until May 14, can be accessed by clicking here.

The order also aims to protect the federal government’s economic stimulus checks from being seized by judgment creditors. A number of states, including Ohio and Massachusetts have taken similar steps.

A growing number of states are enacting legislation or emergency regulations aimed at protecting consumers and providing relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wisconsin and Illinois have issued guidance aimed at providing advice to collectors about how they should be operating during the crisis. Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., have enacted emergency regulations that dramatically restrict how individuals can be contacted about their debts. North Carolina has enacted a 30-day deferral of debt payments. A bill in South Carolina called for a moratorium on medical debt collection. In Ohio, a bill was introduced that would halt all debt collection activities for the duration of the pandemic. The New Jersey legislature is also considering bills aimed at prohibiting certain types of debt collection activities.

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