As part of the governments efforts to help people deal with the financial impacts of dealing with COVID-19 or Coronavirus, the Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) filed an emergency regulation restricting what can be done by creditors, including debt collectors and those working for the creditors, to collect consumer debts. The emergency regulation, 940 C.M.R. 35, is effective immediately and continues for ninety (90) days or until the State of Emergency Period Expires, whichever occurs first. The State of Emergency Period ends thirty (3) days after the Governor’s lifts the state of emergency.
The emergency regulation impacts the collection of consumer debts and deems certain conduct to be an unfair or deceptive act or practice and a violation of M.G.L. c. 93A (the Consumer Protection Act). Some of the actions a creditor cannot take at this time are:
- File a new lawsuit to collect a consumer debt;
- Take steps to attach to take any funds or property of a debtor, this include wage garnishment, levy of real estate, or to repossess vehicles;
- Request or serve a capias warrant (a/k/a a civil arrest warrant);
- Make unsolicited telephone calls to a consumer.
This is not a complete list and there are other details contained in the emergency regulation. A copy of the regulation can be found here. If you believe that a creditor has violated the regulation you can file a complaint with the Attorney General, or seek to recover any damages you may have suffered as a result.