Gov. Kate Brown, the governor of Oregon, has issued an Executive Order that prohibits funds deposited into the bank accounts of individuals from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) from being seized by an active garnishment, including those obtained by debt collectors.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Be sure to check out AccountsRecovery.net’s Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resource Page, which includes links to more than 60 articles related to the pandemic’s impact on the debt collection industry.]
A copy of the order, which was signed on Friday, April 17, can be accessed by clicking here.
The Executive Order is to remain in place during the period in which a State of Emergency is declared in Oregon.
It might be worth noting that the Order reads “Upon receipt of a Notice of Garnishment,” which does make it seem like the order applies to new garnishments as opposed to existing ones, but collection agencies should definitely check with their compliance and legal teams prior to taking any action.
The Order instructs financial institutions to treat economic relief being provided by the CARES Act as any federal benefit, such as Social Security payments.
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. Specifically related to the CARES Act payments, Illinois, Washington, and Ohio have issued orders prohibiting that money from being seized by garnishment orders.
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.