Date: April 22, 2020Author: Denbeaux & Denbeaux
Fairmont resident Tracy Fowler noticed her latest paycheck appeared to be smaller than usual, despite her working the same amount of hours as always. Upon investigation, she found a notice of garnishment on her workplace ADP account. She provided proof of the garnishment notice via email to the Times West Virginian.
Preston County resident Cheri Long works as a nurse at an assisted living facility. When buying groceries the supermarket declined her debit card. Suddenly, she discovered a lock on her bank account by WVU Hospitals due to unpaid medical debt.
The way the debt collection system presently works is after they get a judgment against someone they can go freeze all the debtor’s bank accounts. I am working to change this, I promise.
The debtor gets 10 days in which to go to Court to demand the release of the money that is ‘exempt’. Exempt means that the collector is not allowed to have it.
This is the problem: WE ARE UNDER A STAY AT HOME ORDER, and not allowed to go to Court. And, for that matter, the Courts are mostly closed.
So … how does our nurse go to Court?
The Answer: She DOESN’T, and the debt collector uses the Executive Order (and her 12 hour shifts in the emergency room) to line their pockets with our COVID-19 money!
I want to file an emergency, statewide Order to Show Cause to stop all debt collectors from freezing ANY accounts pending the resolution of the Covid-19 crisis and the lifting of the stay at home orders and the reopening of the Court system.
Otherwise, the debt collectors are seizing funds that they know they are not allowed to have at a time when people lack the fundamental right to challenge thefts of exempt funds.
Everyone – through the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution – has a right to a hearing before someone takes your money.
The collection industry is intentionally freezing accounts full of CARES Act money. They are confident that no one will have the practical ability to challenge the seizure. This is theft, pure and simple. I want to force the Courts to make a decision: Protect our Rights, or Serve the Debt Collection Industry.
In the past, New Jersey, unfortunately, has sided more often than not with the industry.
All I can do is push the Courts to the test.
If you know of anyone who had their stimulus payment raided by a debt collector we want to know about it because we will fight for them. For all health care professionals, out there working to save all of us, patient by patient, I want to try to help you.
If I can help you, I will do it without requiring any money from you for my services. I will even cover the court costs. Just reach out to me. Maybe I can help alleviate some of your stress while you work to keep us all safe and healthy.