Senators Call on Debt Buyers to Stop Suing, Garnishing ‘Immediately’

A pair of Senators have set their sights on one of the nation’s largest credit card lenders and a pair of the nation’s largest debt buyers, calling out what the Senators label as “aggressive” debt collection practices and telling them they should “suspend” the filing of collection lawsuits and garnishing wages.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D-Mass.] and Sen. Sherrod Brown [D-Ohio] sent letters to Capital One, Portfolio Recovery Associates, and Encore Credit this week, saying that the legal actions being taken are hurting “consumers already struggling to pay for basic necessities” and exacerbating “the economic and public health crisis.” As well, the Senators asked for answers to a number of questions, including the number of suits each company has filed every month this year, the number of consumers whose wages are being garnished, and how the companies are providing assistance to consumers who are “facing difficulties” because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter was sent after ProPublica published a report earlier this month that spotlighted how some companies, including those mentioned above, were continuing to file lawsuits and garnish wages while the country was dealing with COVID-19.

In a published report, Sheryl Wright, an executive from Encore Capital’s subsidiary Midland Credit Management, said, “In keeping with the long-standing hardship policy in our Consumer Bill of Rights, we suspend collections when a consumer tells us they’ve been directly impacted by COVID-19, and we stopped bank garnishments for all consumers in mid-March. For any bank garnishment that was initiated prior to the stoppage, if the consumer informs us that we inadvertently levied exempt funds, including CARES Act relief payments, we immediately initiate a refund.”

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