Editor's Note: For all related insideARM articles and other information, please check insideARM's COVID-19 Impact resources page.
Yesterday, Rhode Island's Attorney General (AG) issued guidance to financial institutions in order to ensure that CARES Act stimulus checks are protected from seizure by creditors and debt collectors. Specifically, the guidance exempts stimulus checks from attachment and execution, but the AG "does not express an opinion on any other exemptions or the status of the CARES Act payments in other contexts."
The guidance explains:
A broad construction of Rhode Island's exemption statute advances its purpose, which is to ensure that individuals and families have sufficient income and property to provide for essential needs, such as food and housing. . . This goal dovetails with the purpose of the CARES Act: to provide means-tested assistance to individuals and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AG's guidance ends with a stern warning: if any creditor seeks to attach a stimulus check, then the AG may bring a civil action against the creditor in addition to whatever cause of action the consumer chooses to bring.
Rhode Island joins several other states who have similarly exempted stimulus checks from attachment, wage garnishment, and other legal remedies for unpaid debts. For a list of these states, including all state notices related to COVID-19, check out insideARM's COVID-19 Impact resources page.