Brown, Warren Call On Banks To End The Seizure Of Stimulus Checks
Senators Say Banks Should Be Helping Their Communities Not Taking Money Away From Struggling Americans
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), today sent letters to banks and credit unions, through their trade organizations the American Bankers Association, Bank Policy Institute, Consumer Bankers Association, Independent Community Bankers of America, National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, and the Credit Union National Association, urging them to cease the seizure of CARES act stimulus payments from hardworking American families. The Senators' push follows recent reports that banks are seizing the CARES Act stimulus payments from their customers to pay themselves.
“During this time of crisis, we must come together to protect our collective health and mitigating the financial blow that Covid-19 is taking on our workers and our economy. We ask that your member banks do the right thing—for their customers, our country, and our economy—and publicly commit that they will not offset their customers’ stimulus payments to pay for any fees, charges, or allegedly past due debts,” wrote the Senators.
Senator Brown has continued to push Treasury to ensure that money goes to those who need it most. Earlier this month he joined Senators Wyden (D-OR) and Warren (D-MA) in calling for Treasury Sec. Mnuchin to protect stimulus payments from being garnished by debt collectors. Additionally, Brown also sent a bipartisan letter with Senator Hawley (R-MO) again pressing Sec. Mnuchin to protect the stimulus payments from being garnished.
A copy of the letter can be found here and below:
President & CEO
American Bankers Association
Dear Mr. Nichols:
We write with serious concerns regarding recent reports that banks are seizing the CARES Act stimulus payments from their customers to pay themselves. During this global pandemic and the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, it is outrageous and sickening that banks would take money away from struggling Americans.
That is not what Congress intended. We included stimulus payments to help struggling American families pay for food, medicine, and other basic necessities. For that reason, Congress expressly exempted these payments from being offset to pay federal or state debts (except for child support), and provided the Treasury Department with authority to protect these payments from being offset or garnished by banks or debt collectors.
The CARES Act stimulus payments are a financial lifeline for American families during this crisis, especially the more than 17 million Americans who have lost their jobs in the past few weeks. These stimulus payments will also provide a much needed boost to the economy—but only if spent by American families instead of siphoned off by predatory banks and debt collectors.
For weeks, we have pressed the Treasury Department to exercise its authority and ensure that Americans receive the full amount of their stimulus payments. While Treasury has refused to follow congressional intent, that does not give banks license to steal the stimulus payments from their customers.
During this time of crisis, we must come together to protect our collective health and mitigating the financial blow that Covid-19 is taking on our workers and our economy. We ask that your member banks do the right thing—for their customers, our country, and our economy—and publicly commit that they will not offset their customers’ stimulus payments to pay for any fees, charges, or allegedly past due debts.
We look forward to hearing from you and your member banks about steps they are taking to help American families get through this crisis.
 See CARES Act Section 2201(d), (h); see also “CARES Act: Recovery Check FAQ,” Chairman Chuck Grassley (Mar. 26, 2020), available at https://www.finance.senate.gov/chairmans-news/cares-act-recovery-checks-faq.
 See April 2, 2020 Letter from Sens. Brown, Wyden, and Warren to Sec. Mnuchin, available at https://www.banking.senate.gov/newsroom/minority/brown-senate-democrats-call-on-mnuchin-to-ensure-that-direct-payments-go-to-hardworking-americans-not-to-predatory-debt-collectors, and April 9, 2020 letter from Sens. Brown and Hawley, available at https://www.banking.senate.gov/newsroom/minority/brown-hawley-call-on-mnuchin-to-ensure-that-direct-payments-go-to-hardworking-americans-not-to-predatory-debt-collectors.
Next Article Previous Article