NCBA Joins CFPB, Members of Congress, and Other Industry Trade Associations to Support Legislation

Over the past week, since sharing our letter to Congress with you, we have coordinated our efforts with the CFPB, Senator Brown’s Office, and even consumer groups as we asked Congress for additional legislation to protect stimulus checks. We are asking for legislation to earmark stimulus payments approved in the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 as exempt from bank attachment.

Unlike the last round of stimulus payments, the latest stimulus payments that started going out over the weekend remain open to being seized by bank attachment -- a problem we recognized early on upon passage of the Bill. As the Bill was passed by Congress utilizing the reconciliation process, due to the “Byrd Rule” non budget related items were precluded from being included.

Similar to the position we took at the onset of the pandemic, NCBA continues to encourage its members to lead in identifying, offering, and utilizing existing hardship policies and extending hardship accommodations, to any consumer who is adversely affected by the current health crisis including not to seek attachment of direct stimulus payments.  The problem is that without legislation or other regulatory fixes there is no easy way for a bank to identify these payments as is done with other government payments like social security or veterans’ benefits.  

We communicated our position to Congress, the CFPB,  the banking trades and consumer groups who also sent a letter to Congress noting their support for legislation to protect these payments.

Over the weekend we were invited to join a call with CFPB Acting Director Uejio along with representatives from ACA, RMAi, and InsideARM (CRC).

The main purpose of the call was to discuss the industry’s treatment of the next round of stimulus payments. NCBA reiterated that we believe the stimulus funds should be exempt from garnishment and mentioned our efforts to ask Congress to have the payments earmarked as such. We noted that unless the funds are earmarked by treasury/banks, we have no way of knowing from where the funds came and that is the challenge for our members.

The Acting Director applauded our efforts and stated his approval of industry publicly in the CFPB’s press release:

“In recent days, many financial industry trade associations in dialogue with the CFPB have said they want to work with consumers struggling in the pandemic. Many of these organizations have told us they have begun or soon will take proactive measures to help ensure that consumers can access the full value of their stimulus payments. If payments are seized, many financial institutions have pledged to promptly restore the funds to the people who should receive them. We appreciate these efforts, which recognize the extraordinary nature of this crisis and the extraordinary financial challenges facing so many families across the country.”

We are also aware that our correspondence to Congress made a significant impact when we were contacted by Senator Sherrod Brown’s (D-Ohio) office who will introduce a Bill to protect stimulus payments. Senator Brown’s Office has asked us to do some outreach to other members of Senate Banking in support of the Bill.

NCBA is pleased to be able to have our voice heard and the ability to publicly state our membership’s empathy for those consumers who are facing financial hardship due to the pandemic.