Consumer Bureau Takes Steps to Protect Stimulus Checks

As the stimulus checks from the American Rescue Plan hit bank accounts, consumer advocates have consistently called for protecting these funds from debt collectors.

Now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has taken steps to protect the funds from the stimulus checks from debt collection, overdraft fees, and other means of redirection.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Acting Director Dave Uejio issued the following statement regarding consumers’ access to Economic Impact Payment (EIP) funds distributed through the American Rescue Plan:

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is squarely focused on addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economically vulnerable consumers and is looking carefully at the stimulus payments that millions are now receiving through the American Rescue Plan. The Bureau is concerned that some of those desperately needed funds will not reach consumers, and will instead be intercepted by financial institutions or debt collectors to cover overdraft fees, past-due debts, or other liabilities.

“In recent days, many financial industry trade associations in dialogue with the CFPB have said they want to work with consumers struggling in the pandemic. Many of these organizations have told us they have begun or soon will take proactive measures to help ensure that consumers can access the full value of their stimulus payments. If payments are seized, many financial institutions have pledged to promptly restore the funds to the people who should receive them. We appreciate these efforts, which recognize the extraordinary nature of this crisis and the extraordinary financial challenges facing so many families across the country.

“I applaud the actions of our state partners, who have taken rapid action and concrete measures to protect stimulus funds. We will remain in touch with them to better understand the effectiveness of these actions. I’ll also stay in touch with the Bureau’s consumer stakeholders who provide valuable ‘voice of the consumer’ insight on problems with accessing their stimulus payments. The Bureau will continue to closely monitor consumer complaint data and other information that will help us to better understand how these issues are affecting consumers.

“The Bureau will stay closely engaged on this issue as the COVID relief payment rollout continues.”

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN

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