Can Debt Collectors Take Someone’s Stimulus Check? (FAQ)
Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)
The CARES Act authorizes payments to individuals of up to $1,200 and $2,400 for couples, and an additional $500 per child under the age of 17. The U.S. Treasury will start issuing payments as early as April 9th. Payments will be made electronically to people who provided direct deposit information to the IRS in their 2018 or 2019 tax returns.
Debt collectors with a court ordered judgment can take the stimulus money from your bank account.
How do I know if there is a judgment against me?
If you have had your wages garnished or money taken from your bank account in the past, there is almost certainly a judgment against you.
How do I know if someone is trying to take money from my bank account?
Under Montana law, a judgment creditor must mail a notice of seizure within 5 days of their attempt to seize money from your bank account. Often, a consumer will not receive that notice before the seizure happens, or sometimes at all. The judgment creditor must mail it to the last known address they have for you, which might be many years old (from the time of the original lawsuit they filed against you).
How can I prevent money from being taken from my bank account?
You might not be able to prevent money from being taken if your bank gets a court ordered judgment while your stimulus money is still in your bank account. Because the timing of when you will receive your stimulus payment is so uncertain, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your bank account so you will know when the stimulus payment has been deposited.
What should I do if money is taken from my bank account?
If the stimulus payment (or other money) is taken from your bank account, you should talk to a lawyer right away.
Learn how to apply for free legal help from Montana Legal Services Association.
Find Community Resources
- Check out the County Resource Guide for your county to find local resources.
- Visit Montana211.org or dial 2-1-1 for help finding local resources.
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