NC attorney general works to keep debt collectors, scammers away from stimulus checks

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Congress intended to help people in need of financial relief when it authorized billions of dollars of stimulus money to be distributed. However, some are concerned that debt collectors may take those checks.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is trying to prevent that money from being taken since direct deposits are now being made several weeks after the CARES Act became law.

For those who haven’t received their money, the IRS has created a portal to track it. CBS 17’s Steve Sbraccia got a message saying “Payment status not available” when he attempted to track his cash. Others have said the website is so overloaded it’s impossible to log on.

Stein said that’s not right.

“It’s not to be taken by a debt collector before you have a chance to spend it,” he said.

Social security payments are coded in a special way so debt collectors can’t garnish them. Stein said he wants something similar for stimulus money. He and 24 other attorneys general have sent a letter to the United States Treasury Department, asking it to “take immediate action” to keep that money out of the hands of debt collectors.

Stein said the group hasn’t received a response, thus his office has its hands tied.

“We don’t know what the federal government will do in terms of protecting those payments. So, until we get greater clarity, we won’t know the proper course of action to take,” Stein said.

Anyone having a problem with a debt collector for reasons other than a stimulus check can file an online complaint with Stein’s office.

It’s also recommended that people don’t mention online that they received their stimulus money because criminals are looking for that information. They’re regarding this as a golden opportunity to get that money, as well as find ways to access bank accounts via scams. Among the scams is people calling who claim to be from the government asking for direct deposit information.

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