Late last month, the Oregon Department of Financial Regulation issued guidance for all collection agencies and debt buyers regulated by the state, “encourag[ing]” them to take a more active role in helping individuals who have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Calling the measures it recommended “reasonable”, the guidance was not a set of rules or regulations to be followed, but a set of best practices aimed at being more understanding of the financial situation that residents of the state may find themselves in because of COVID-19.
A copy of the guidance can be accessed by clicking here.
Among the recommendations made by the regulator were:
- Be willing to accommodate debtors who have stated that they have hardships resulting from the outbreak, such as reduced income, reduced hours, lost employment, or illness.
- Offer payment accommodations, such as allowing a debtor to defer payments, extending payment due dates, or otherwise adjusting terms of existing payment plans.
- Waive late payment fees or online payment fees.
- Waive nonsufficient funds fees or reduce them to match out-of-pocket costs.
- Temporarily suspend collection activities for debtors who have significant financial or medical hardship.
- If you suspend activity on one account of a debtor, suspend activity on all accounts of that debtor.
- Stop collection activity against debtors with no access to assets whose only source of income is an exempt source, such as Social Security.
- A debtor may decide to pay the debt with economic impact payments from the stimulus funds, but Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order prevents creditors and debt collectors from garnishing a debtor’s CARES Act recovery rebate payment.
A number of states have been actively issuing regulations, guidance, and emergency orders aimed at restricting what collectors can do during the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically related to the CARES Act payments, California, Oregon, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Washington, Vermont, and Ohio have issued orders prohibiting that money from being seized by garnishment orders.