ACA International continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation on behalf of its members to ensure that we are providing the most up-to-date guidance and information to help you adapt to various, and often swift, changes. We are here for you.
Small Business Administration Resources for CARES Act Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration released guidance about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including a sample application accessible here. A fact sheet released by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Lenders began processing PPP loan applications on Friday, April 3, 2020. Although the program will accept applications until June 30, 2020, most experts anticipate that the $349 billion fund will be exhausted quickly. ACA's Daily Huddle on April 2 and April 7 focus on guidance on the SBA Loan Programs.
- Paycheck Protection Program Increase Act of 2020 - Approved in the U.S. Senate April 21
- Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act - Approved in the U.S. House of Representatives April 24
- NEW: U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Small Business Administration FAQs on Paycheck Protection Program
- Summary of Funding Approved for Hospitals, Provider Recovery and Testing
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Small Business Loan Guidance and Resources
- U.S. Small Business Administration: Disaster Loan Applications
- Department of Labor Information from the CARES Act
- The U.S. Department of Labor Resource Page
Contact Congress on Behalf of the Industry Today
- ACA International has crafted a letter that members are encouraged to use in their correspondences with Congress to address these bad ideas and promote necessary communications with consumers.
Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) Act (Proposal)
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
- Member Alert: U.S. Senate Reaches Agreement on Coronavirus Aid Bill with Relief for Small Businesses
- Full Text
- Summary of the CARES Act.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- Congress Issues Guidelines on Tax Credits under Families First Coronavirus Response Act
- Full Text
- Summary of The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Daily Federal Updates
- ACA Updates Advocacy Booklet (May 2020)
- ACA Continues Advocacy, HEROES Includes Certain Troublesome Language
- State Attorneys General Letter to Credit Reporting Agencies on FCRA Obiligations (April 28, 2020)
- NEW: ACA International Opens Survey on Out-of-Statute Debt Responses due by April 30, 2020.
- Member Alert: ACA Comments on Stimulus Checks in Letter to Treasury
- CFPB Issues Policy Statement on Credit Reporting
- President Trump extended the "social distancing" guidelines until April 30
- President Signs Stimulus Bill
- SBA Offers Loans in District of Columbia; CFPB Announces Flexibility for Financial Companies; CARES Act Set for vote in the House
- U.S. Senate Reaches Agreement on Coronavirus Aid Bill with Relief for Small Businesses
- Responding to Industry, CFPB Extends Comment Deadline on Out-of-Statute Debt Proposal
- News From Washington: ACA’s Federal Advocacy Update (3/20/2020)
Letters to White House, Congress, and Regulators
- ACA International Letter and Comments on Stimulus Checks to U.S. Department of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (April 16, 2020)
- Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
- Message from ACA President Roger Weiss to State Lawmakers (March 22, 2020)
- ACA International Letter to U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of the ARM Industry (March 20, 2020)
- ACA International Letter to U.S. Small Business Administration on behalf of the ARM Industry (March 20, 2020)
- ACA International Letter to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on behalf of the ARM Industry (March 20, 2020)
- ACA International Letter to CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger on behalf of the ARM Industry (March 19, 2020)
- ACA Submits Letter to White House Related to the Coronavirus and Flawed Legislative Proposals Concerning the ARM Industry (March 18, 2020)
Please check back often for updates to this page.
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COVID-19: Licensing Guidance from State AgenciesUpdates on state guidance on compliance and licensing.
ACA International is dedicated to providing members with resources on managing business operations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) national emergency and going forward.
The National Governors Association has multiple resources available on COVID-19 in the U.S. and actions in states and territories in response to the pandemic. The resources include a chart summarizing state actions and business re-openings. Implementation of various state plans are changing all the time and the changes often do not directly impact the accounts receivable management industry (i.e. parks, restaurants, construction, curbside deliveries.) Members are encouraged to check the chart for their state updates while ACA will continue to highlight specific changes for the industry on a regular basis.
The Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) has created a webpage for communication and guidance updates from state licensing agencies as they are released. A link to state agency contacts is also available.
The Conference of State Bank Supervisors also has similar helpful COVID-19 updates on its website.
North American Collection Agency Regulatory Association (NACARA) is providing the following information and guidance for financial services companies and consumers.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has also issued guidance on essential critical infrastructure many states are following in their orders.
Following are additional updates from state regulatory agencies obtained by ACA's Vice President of Government and State Affairs Andy Madden:
Alabama Stay-at-Home Order and Guidance for Businesses
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced the state will begin reopening the economy in a series of phases beginning Thursday, April 30, at 5 p.m. The state will let the existing Stay at Home order lapse and move to a less restrictive Safer at Home Order that will be in effect until 5 p.m. on May 15.
Effective April 30, at 5 p.m., and unless otherwise permitted or required by this order, all employers shall take reasonable steps, where practicable as work duties permit, to protect their employees by:
- Avoiding gatherings of 10 employees or more;
- Maintaining six feet of separation between employees;
- Regularly disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces;
- Encouraging handwashing;
- Preventing employees who are sick from coming into contact with other persons;
- Facilitating remote working arrangements; and
- Minimizing employee travel.
Arizona Department of Financial Institutions: Licensing Division (Home Page)
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has modified and extended the state’s stay at home order until May 15.
On May 4, retail businesses will be allowed to sell goods via drive-thru, pick-up, delivery or window service—provided they establish and implement sanitation and physical distancing measures. This “limited opening” will be for appointment-based services, limited occupancy, curbside pick-up and delivery.
Effective May 8, those businesses can begin offering their goods via in-store purchases if strict social distancing protocols are enforced. Note: This updated guidance applies to the act of selling goods, not services.
Additional guidance for restaurants will be announced next week.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to exempt Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act payments and any other federal, state or local government financial assistance made available to individuals in express response to the COVID-19 pandemic from any attachment, levy, execution, or garnishment unless in connection with any action for, or any judgment awarding, any child support, spousal support, or family support, or any criminal restitution payable to victims.
California's stay-at-home order requires all Californians to stay in their place of residence “except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.
In short, this means non-essential businesses, including collection agencies, must close brick-and-mortar operations. Remote work, however, can continue—meaning that businesses may continue to operate with their staff telecommuting.
As a result, collections operations in California may continue with staff working remotely, from their place of residence, but agencies should be mindful of the challenges that telecommuting may impose under other state and federal laws, e.g., the FDCPA (for all third-party collectors), HIPAA (for medical debt collectors), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (for those subject to it).
California's stay at home order is effect until further notice.
Gov. Newsom also said the state is continuing implementation of the four-stage framework for reopening some lower-risk businesses. "Based on the state’s progress in meeting metrics tied to indicators, the state can begin to move into stage two of modifying the stay at home order Friday, May 8, with guidelines released Thursday, May 7," according to a news release.
Colorado Guidance for Businesses
UPDATE: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis issued a directive April 27 outlining the state’s plan permitting the open of certain businesses and schools. The order is in effect for 30 days. Beginning on May 4, the new order permits non-critical commercial businesses to allow up to 50% of their employees to conduct in-person work that takes place outside a private residence in accordance with mandatory social distancing requirements and protocols.
Connecticut Department of Banking (Home Page)
Gov. Ned Lamont is directing all non-essential businesses and not-for-profit entities in Connecticut to prohibit all in-person functions if they are able to, effective Monday, March 23, 2020 and for the duration of the public health emergency. The governor is encouraging all businesses to employ, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work-from-home procedures that they can safely implement. View the governor's executive order, in effect through May 31, 2020.
The Connecticut Department of Banking extended its no-action memo to address branch licensing issues considering temporary mitigation actions licensees needed to take to continue business due to COVID-19 through June 30, 2020. The department’s no-action position concerns the requirement that any Connecticut licensable activity by a Consumer Credit Licensee be conducted from a licensed branch office location, as long as criteria are met:
- The Connecticut licensable activity is conducted from the home location of an individual working on behalf of a Connecticut CC Licensee;
- The individual is working from home due to a reason relating to the COVID-19 outbreak and has informed the Connecticut CC Licensee of such reason in writing;
- The individual maintains all necessary licenses under Title 36a to conduct such Connecticut licensable activity, including, but not limited to, mortgage loan originator or loan processor or underwriter licensure, as applicable;
- None of the Connecticut licensable activity will be conducted in person with members of the public from the home location; and
- The Connecticut CC Licensee shall at all times exercise reasonable supervision of the Connecticut licensable activity being performed at the home office and ensure that appropriate safeguards and controls are established concerning consumer information and data security.
Delaware Division of Small Business (Home Page)
On Sunday, March 22, Delaware Gov. John Carney issued modifications to his State of Emergency, ordering residents to stay home whenever possible and closing all non-essential businesses in response to COVID-19. Non-essential businesses can conduct the minimum necessary activities to facilitate employees of the business being able to work remotely or continue to work remotely from their residences.
Any agencies able to establish remote work options or with existing remote work options in place should be mindful of the challenges that telecommuting may impose under other state and federal laws, e.g., the FDCPA (for all third-party collectors), HIPAA (for medical debt collectors.) View the stay at home order, as well as a list of non-essential businesses and FAQ from the governor’s office for more information.
Also, the state issued guidance to businesses on COVID-19 including reviewing telework and flexible sick leave policies.
District of Columbia, Mayor's Office (Home Page)
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine issued guidance on the debt collection provision of the COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Act.
On Wednesday, May 13, Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the city’s stay at home order to June 8. For additional information and to view the city’s “Situational Update,” click here. The stay at home order details additional information.
The mayor has also issued a Prohibition on Mass Gatherings During Public Health Emergency. For more information on the District’s response, visit https://coronavirus.dc.gov/
The District of Columbia City Council passed an amendment to its COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Act, which among other requirements restricted debt collection communications. Mayor Bowser signed the amendment on May 4.
This measure amends Section 28-3814(m) of the D.C. Official Code pertaining to debt collection communication during a public health emergency, stating that during a public health emergency and for 60 days after its conclusion, no debt collector can initiate any communication with any debtor via any written or electronic communication, including email, text message, or telephone. A debt collector will not be deemed to have initiated a communication with a debtor if the communication by the debt collector is in response to a request made by the debtor for the communication or is the mailing of monthly statements or payment receipts related to an existing payment plan. This does not apply to receiving and depositing payments the debtor chooses to make during the public health emergency.
The COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 Is an "emergency" bill slated to remain in effect for 90 days.
According to the bill:
(2) During a public health emergency and for 60 days after its conclusion, no creditor or debt collector shall, with respect to any debt:
(A) Initiate, file, or threaten to file any new collection lawsuit;
(B) Initiate, threaten to initiate, or act upon any statutory remedy for the garnishment, seizure, attachment, or withholding of wages, earnings, property, or funds for the payment of a debt to a creditor;
(C) Initiate, threaten to initiate, or act upon any statutory remedy for the repossession of any vehicle, provided that creditors or debt collectors may accept collateral that is voluntarily surrendered.
(m)(l) During a public health emergency and for 60 days after its conclusion, no debt collector shall initiate any communication with any debtor via any written or electronic communication, including email or text message, or telephone, provided that a debt collector shall not be deemed to have initiated a comnunication with a debtor if the communication by the debt collector is in response to a request made by the debtor for said communication.
(2) This subsection shall not apply to communications initiated solely for the purpose of informing a debtor of a rescheduled court appearance date or discussing a mutually convenient date for a rescheduled court appearance;
(3) This subsection shall not apply to original creditors collecting or attempting to collect their own debt, nor shall it apply to collecting or attempting to collect a debt which is, or is alleged to be, owed on a loan secured by a mortgage on real property.
Florida Office of the Governor (Home Page)
Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order outlining the state’s Phase 1: Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step. Plan for Florida's Recovery.
Unless otherwise directed by the governor, the following applies to other business services affected by previous Executive Orders:
- In-store retail sales establishments may open storefronts if they operate at no more than 25 % of their building occupancy and abide by the safety guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA.
- Museums and libraries may open at no more than 25 % of their building occupancy, provided, however, that (a) local public museums and local public libraries may operate only if permitted by local government, and (b) any components of museums or libraries that have interactive functions or exhibits.
- Bars, pubs and nightclubs that derive more than 50 % of gross revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages shall continue to suspend the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
- Restaurants and food establishments licensed under Chapters 500 or 509, Florida Statutes, may allow on-premises consumption of food and beverage, so long as they adopt appropriate social distancing measures and limit their indoor occupancy to no more than 25 % of their building occupancy. In addition, outdoor seating is permissible with appropriate social distancing.
Gov. DeSantis previously issued a statewide stay at home order effective until midnight on April 30, 2020.
For purposes of this order and the conduct it limits, “essential services” to the list detailed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in its Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce and any subsequent lists published.
Essential services also include those businesses and activities designated by Executive Order 20-89 and its attachment which consists of a list propounded by Miami-Dade County in multiple orders. Order 20-89 includes banks and related financial institutions.
Georgia Stay at Home Order and Guidance for Businesses
Gov. Brian Kemp has extended the statewide shelter-at-home order until April 30, 2020.
The term "Critical Infrastructure" refers to businesses, establishments, corporations, non-profit corporations, and organizations as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as "essential critical infrastructure workforce" in guidance dated March 19, 2020, and revised on March 28, 2020, and those suppliers which provide essential goods and services to the critical infrastructure workforce as well as entities that provide legal services, home hospice, and non-profit corporations or non-profit organizations that offer food distribution or other health or mental health services. The operation of Critical Infrastructure shall not be impeded by county, municipal, or local ordinance.
Hawaii Office of the Governor (Home Page)
Gov. David Ige extended the stay at home order, originally set to expire on April 30, for an additional 14 days as the state begins its next phase for reopening, according to a news release.
Under the original proclamation, individuals may leave their home or place of residence only for essential activities, to engage in essential businesses and operations, and only if their work cannot be conducted through remote technology from home.
All businesses or operations not identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as "essential critical infrastructure workforce" must cease.
Idaho Stay at Home Order and Business Guidance
The Idaho Department of Finance has extended its temporary guidance regarding remote work due to COVID-19 until Sept. 1.
The guidance states: “The department recognizes that as states and municipalities are lifting stay-at-home orders in varying stages, our licensees may need to continue remote operations in certain locations. Additionally, the department understands that following these recent events licensees may want to evaluate whether it is beneficial to their businesses and their consumers to continue utilizing remote operations as part of their business processes. Therefore, the department is extending its Temporary Regulatory Guidance until Sept. 1, 2020. Licensees are still expected to meet the original requirements of the guidance and should be prepared to meet any existing licensing or registration requirements after Sept. 1, 2020.”
This extended guidance may be modified or withdrawn by the director as conditions change or as otherwise directed by Gov. Brad Little.
Gov. Little replaced the expiring statewide stay home order with a new "Stay Healthy Order," which details the Stage One reopening of the state. More details on the full plan may be found at Rebound.Idaho.Gov
According to the governor, Stage One allows 90 % of businesses to open their doors on May 1. Businesses must follow protocols to ensure physical distancing, sanitation, and other measures detailed in the order.
Stage One includes:
- Employees are encouraged to continue teleworking, and employers should return employees to work in phases.
- Places of worship, daycares, and organized youth activities and day camps can reopen as long as they follow protocols.
- The 14-day self-quarantine for people entering the state will continue, to prevent an influx of out-of-state visitors who could be carrying the virus into Idaho.
- Vulnerable Idahoans should continue to stay at home if they can.
- Gatherings of any size, both public and private, should be avoided.
- Non-essential travel should be minimized or avoided.
- Dine-in at restaurants must remain closed, but pick-up and delivery options will still available.
- Indoor gyms, recreation facilities, and close contact services such as massage, hair and nail salons remain closed but can make plans to reopen on May 16 in Stage 2 if they follow protocols.
- Bars, nightclubs, and large venues must remain closed.
Stage Two will begin on May 16 if the state meets criteria to progress to the next stage over the next two weeks.
Illinois Office of the Governor (Home Page)
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order that "suspends sections in the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure that permit the service of a garnishment summons, wage deduction summons, or a citation to discover assets on a consumer debtor or consumer garnishee. It shall not be construed to apply to domestic support obligations or relieving a debtor of any liability." This executive order is in effect for the same duration as the governor's disaster proclamation for Illinois filed on April 1, 2020 and in effect for at least 30 days.
The state's stay at home order and non-essential business operations executive order has been modified to allow for some limited businesses to begin opening while being extended through May 30, 2020.
ACA International has confirmed that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – Division of Financial Institutions guidance for licensed entities in applies to all licensed agencies, not just those located within state.
Companies with individual agents working remotely under Gov. Pritzker’s executive order and guidance from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) are now required to notify the state. If an individual agent is working remotely and the brick and mortar location is not changing, the collection agency should send an email with the employee name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject line should list "Collection Agency – Remote Work COVID." The collection agency will need to email the agency name and 017 license number followed by the list of collectors and their addresses where they are working remotely.
While non-essential business and operation must cease, businesses may continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors working from home. Agencies should be mindful of the challenges that telecommuting may impose under other state and federal laws, e.g., the FDCPA (for all third-party collectors), HIPAA (for medical debt collectors.) The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) of the Supreme Court of Illinois also issued COVID-19 guidance for legal services agencies that the accounts receivable management industry may also find helpful.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – Division of Financial Institutions announced new guidance to its regulated entities, including student loan servicers and collection agencies, encouraging debt collectors and debt buyers to work with consumers to accommodate hardships due to the COVID-19 crisis, including to suspend collection activity for a period of at least 60 days, according to a news release.
Additional guidance to licensed entities states although licensed collection agencies and debt buyers operating in Illinois are not listed as essential businesses under Gov. Pritzker’s executive stay-at-home order, non-essential businesses are allowed to continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences.
Thus, debt collection agencies seeking to work at a location other than their address of record, including remotely, are hereby directed to provide the department notice within 14 days of any address changes.
Student loan servicers licensed in Illinois are encouraged by the Division of Financial Institutions to "make prudent efforts to meet the financial needs of all student loan borrowers affected directly or indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic" following passage of H.R. 748 (the CARES Act), which codifies additional relief for federal student loan borrowers who have loans held by the U.S. Department of Education.
Indiana Governor Executive Order
Update: The Indiana Supreme Court issued an order April 20 placing a hold on garnishing funds attributable to Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stimulus payments.
According to the order:
1. Courts shall issue no new orders placing a hold on, attaching, or garnishing funds in a judgment-debtor’s account in a depository institution as defined in the Depository Financial Institutions Adverse Claims Act, I.C. § 28-9-1-1, et seq., if those funds are attributable to a stimulus payment, except that this prohibition shall not apply to judgments or orders for payment of child support.
2. As for any previously issued court orders placing a hold on a judgment-debtor’s account in a depository institution, the judgment-debtor shall be entitled, upon request, to a hearing (either in-person or remotely, as local circumstances permit), within two business days of the court’s receipt of said request, to determine what funds in the account are attributable to a stimulus payment and for the judgment-debtor to assert any exemption(s) under state or federal law. Courts shall treat such hearings as “essential” and “urgent” under this Court’s orders of March 16 and 23, 2020 in 20SCB-123.
Gov. Eric J. Holcomb issued an updated executive order for residents to stay in their homes except when they are at work or for permitted activities. It is now in effect through May 1, 2020.
The state's public emergency declaration is in effect until May 5. Find more information on essential activities and workplaces here.
The governor's executive order lists "Financial and Insurance Institutions," as essential. It is defined as: ‘Banks, unions, currency pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders and sales finance lenders, title companies, appraisers, financial markets, trading and future exchanges, payday lenders, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, and institutions selling financial products. Also, insurance companies, underwriters, agents, brokers, and related insurance claims and agency services.’
Additionally, some professional services are addressed as essential, such as legal services, accounting services, insurance services, and real estate services (including appraisal and title services).
The Indiana COVID-19 Business Response Team is urging Indiana businesses to consult with their legal teams on their compliance with the executive order, as applicable, and to strongly consider their ability to operate while adhering to social distancing requirements and generally supporting the ‘Stay at Home’ mandate.
Along with the governor’s executive order, businesses should also abide by any orders or mandates established by local governments. Essential businesses should continue to maintain best practices or implement policies in the workplace as recommended by the CDC.
The Indiana Secretary of State has issued remote worker guidance to all loan brokers, collection agencies, and employees licensed with the Indiana Securities Division.
Gov. Kim Reynolds issued an updated proclamation of disaster emergency. The new order does not include or extend the restrictions on foreclosures, evictions and garnishments.
The new proclamation from the governor continues the state’s Public Health Disaster Emergency until June 25, 2020, with some restrictions for businesses and social gatherings lifted, according to a news release. Regulatory relief to those impacted by the public health emergency will remain available until June 25.
Gov. Reynolds previously issued a proclamation suspending garnishments. The order states, in Section 28, that it "temporarily suspend[s] the provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 642 authorizing garnishment and the provisions of Iowa Code Chapter 626 allowing execution of garnishment, except for those provisions relating to enforcement of domestic support orders."
From the Division of Banking: Regulatory Guidance for Working from Residence or Other Company Designated Location
Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner (Home Page)
On May 4, 2020, Gov. Laura Kelly lifted the statewide Stay at Home Order order and allow Kansas communities to begin phased reopening by issuing a statewide executive order to begin phase one of the Plan to Reopen Kansas.
The existing Stay at Home Order directs all individuals within the state of Kansas to stay in their homes or residences unless performing an essential activity until May 3, 2020.
Essential functions include:
Provide Capital Markets and Investment Activities (Perform accounting services); Provide Consumer and Commercial Banking Services; Provide Funding and Liquidity Services; Provide Payment, Clearing and Settlement Services; and Support Community Health and Mental Health Services.
Kentucky Stay at Home Order and Business Guidance
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency and encourages residents to remain Healthy at Home. This order shall be in effect for the duration of the State of Emergency herein referenced, or until this Executive Order is rescinded. For the purposes of order life-sustaining businesses include all businesses operating in the federal critical infrastructure sectors.
Financial Services included in the infrastructure notice are: Depository institutions, including but not limited to banks and credit unions; Non-depository institutions, including but not limited to consumer, industrial and mortgage loan companies, mortgage loan brokers, originators and processors, deferred deposit, check cashers, and payday lending companies, title pledge lenders, and money transmitters; securities institutions, including but not limited to brokers, agents, advisers and issuers; appraisers, financial markets, bond issuers, or institutions selling financial products to the extent they are providing financial services; and pawnbrokers, to the extent they are providing check-cashing or similar financial services.
Louisiana Stay at Home Order and Business Guidance
After consultation with Brenda Headlee, program manager for the Do Not Call Program (DNC) at the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC), ACA International’s corporate counsel Colin Winkler has confirmed that despite Gov. John Bel Edwards’ declaration of a state emergency, debt collectors may continue to call in Louisiana as usual and as otherwise permitted under state law and the LPSC’s DNC General Order (Docket No. R_29617, decided Oct. 11, 2006) (the “Order.”) Read more here.
Stay at Home Order
Gov. John Bel Edwards will allow the state’s stay at home order to expire and move to Phase 1 of reopening. The governor detailed the new “safer at home” approach and reopening plan in the “Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana.”
Under the plan, businesses can open with certain health and social distancing guidelines in place including limits to 25% occupancy, sanitation and spacing for physical distancing. Occupancy capacity is based on both the gross square footage and the use of a building as well as the amount of space required for individuals to stay six feet apart. This occupancy capacity includes customers and employees. For more specific guidance and resources visit: www.opensafely.la.gov
The plan opening guidelines apply to:
- Solo and non-contact sports
- Barbers and salons
- Museums, zoos, aquariums (no tactile exhibits)
- Gyms and fitness centers
- In malls, only stores with exterior entrances
- Restaurants, coffee shops and cafes
- Bars and breweries with LDH food permit – takeout, delivery and dine-in seating only
- Casinos and Video Poker
- Racetracks (not open to spectators)
Maine Guidance for Businesses
Maine Gov. Janet Mills has extended the statewide stay at home order to May 31 with modifications allowing for the gradual reopening of the state. The reopening, which is detailed in Restarting Maine’s Economy Booklet, is scheduled to take place in four stages beginning on May 1.
The first stage (May 1) includes opening the following businesses that can appropriate meet safety precautions:
- Health care from Maine-licensed providers,
- Personal services: Barber shops, hair salons, and pet grooming
- Limited drive-in religious services
- Drive-in movie theaters
- Outdoor recreation:
- State parks,
- Auto dealerships and car washes
Essential businesses and operations are those identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response.
Workers of non-essential businesses and operations under Executive Orders 19 FY 19/20 may travel between their homes and those non-essential businesses for the purpose of engaging in minimal operations.
Maryland Guidance for Businesses
Gov. Larry Hogan announced that effective Friday, May 15, at 5 p.m., the state will move from a Stay at Home order to a Safer at Home public health advisory. The phased opening allows retail stores to reopen at up to 50 % capacity, with curbside pickup and delivery strongly encouraged. Manufacturing may resume operations under health and safety guidelines. Churches, barber shops and hair salons may also begin to reopen with up to 50 %capacity.
The state also published best practices for business to follow when reopening under the plan.
Gov. Hogan issued an order exempting Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act payments from garnishment.
Except as otherwise provided by this Order:
- CARES Act Recovery Rebates are exempt from, and shall not be subject to, garnishment.
- All financial institutions are hereby ordered not to hold a CARES Act Recovery Rebate of the judgment debtor under a writ of garnishment and to treat CARES Act Recovery Rebates as protected amounts under Maryland Rules 2-645.1 and 3-645.1.
- No banking institution or credit union incorporated under the laws of this state shall have any lien upon, or right of setoff against funds in any customer or member’s account, to the extent such funds are traceable to a CARES Act Recovery Rebate.
In response to the governor’s order exempting CARES Act payments, the Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation issued an advisory for Non-Depository Financial Services Providers.
The advisory states:
"In light of the governor’s order, all business entities licensed by the Commissioner of Financial Regulation ("Commissioner") shall conform to the dictates therein and cease any and all garnishment and/or set-off activity on said Relief Payments, whether directly or through an authorized agent. To the extent a licensed business entity inadvertently receives the proceeds of the Relief Payments, they should endeavor to rectify this mistake in order to permit those funds to be used by Maryland taxpayers for the intended purposes. Should it be determined that a licensed entity willfully or negligently violates the dictates of the governor’s order, such entity may be subject to regulatory action to the fullest extent of the law."
Gov. Hogan also issued an order for financial relief initiatives for consumers and small businesses April 3.
The governor’s financial relief order prohibits mortgage lenders from initiating the foreclosure process. The program includes up to a 90-day period of forbearance and deferral on mortgages. During this period, no late fees will be charged and there will be no negative reporting to credit bureaus. During a press conference on the initiatives, Gov. Hogan also mentioned that the state would be suspending their internal executive agency debt collection activity.
Massachusetts Guidance for Businesses
On May 18, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker issued a new Safer at Home Advisory, which will start opening the state in four stages. The guidelines advise residents to continue staying home as much as possible even as some sectors begin to reopen.
The phased reopening gives businesses permission on when and how they can reopen. Businesses should refer to the Sector-Specific Protocols outlined in the plan and best practices for detailed guidance on reopening. Businesses should also follow a self-certification process to ensure they meet minimum safety standards outlined in the “Reopening of Massachusetts” guidelines.
The following businesses will be eligible to reopen, subject to their ability to comply with all mandatory safety standards:
May 18: Essential business, manufacturing, construction.
May 25: Lab space, office space (excluding those in city of Boston); Limited Personal Services – Hair – Pet grooming – Car washes, Retail – Remote fulfilment – Curbside pick-up.
June 1: Office space: Boston.
ACA International v. Healey
Judge Richard Stearns granted ACA International's motion for a temporary restraining order in ACA International v. Healey.
ACA International filed the lawsuit against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura T. Healey to request an emergency temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction preventing the enforcement of an emergency regulation that largely halts collections calls to Massachusetts consumers for 90 days. The regulation, codified at 940 CMR 35:00, was issued and became effective on March 26, 2020.
ACA’s filings may be accessed here:
Healey issued guidance on garnishment of public assistance funds, specifically the relief individuals and families will receive under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The guidance states that the classification of the funds as public assistance under the CARES Act means they are exempt from seizure, including garnishment, under Massachusetts law. The Attorney General’s Emergency Debt Collection Regulations prohibit new garnishments or attachments by a creditor or a debt collector during the COVID-19 state of emergency period.
The attorney general's office also previously issued guidance in response to frequently asked questions on its emergency addendum to regulations temporarily restricting debt collection calls. View answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the addendum complied by ACA International here.
The Massachusetts Division of Banks also provided further guidance regarding temporarily closing a location due to the COVID-19 virus, as well as regulator notification protocols. The Division notes that all entities chartered and licensed by the Division are covered by the essential services list and therefore exempt from Gov. Baker’s March 23. declaration. Businesses and other organizations that provide essential services are urged to continue operations during the state of emergency, but to do so consistent with social distancing protocols. On March 25, the Massachusetts Division of Banks issued guidance to financial Institutions, mortgage lenders, and mortgage loan servicers regarding support for mortgage loan borrowers impacted by COVID-19.
The Division of Banks issued a notice regarding the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System deadline extensions and new report due dates in an effort to provide flexibility and reduce the regulatory burden to licensees. The annual report deadline for debt collectors is now May 30, 2020. NMLS also issued a 30-day extension to all Massachusetts licensees to submit call reports and the MCR Standard Financial Condition Report.
The latest information and guidance regarding COVID-19 is always available at mass.gov/COVID19. Reminder to licensees on business continuity plans.
Michigan “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the state’s stay at home order until Friday, June 12. While the state continues to slowly reopen, the new Safer at Home order will extend temporary business closures and social movement restrictions. The governor also extended the state of emergency until June 19.
Gov. Whitmer also signed an executive order modifying the state’s stay at home order to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment only statewide on Tuesday, May 26. The new order remains in effect until May 28. Under the order, certain retail business in two of eight regions (upper peninsula and norther lower peninsula) can begin opening under health and safety guidelines on May 22. Workers in an office setting for these regions may go to the office but only to the extent that such work is not capable of being performed remotely.
The governor also issued a new executive order to outline safeguards to reopen.
The new order immediately replaces the order that was scheduled to expire on May 15.
The previous order directed Michigan residents to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of the critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.
Critical infrastructure workers are those workers described by the director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in his guidance on the COVID-19 response
For up to date information on COVID-19 and learn more about how to prevent the spread of the virus, please visit www.michigan.gov/Coronavirus and reference the Michigan Occupational Code Sec. 908 (1) for more definitions that apply to the industry.
Minnesota Department of Commerce (Home Page)
On May 15, the Minnesota Department of Commerce issued new guidance regarding remote debt collection workers. This extends the remote worker guidance longer than the previous versions.
According to the new guidance:
The department will not act against any licensee who allows their individual registered collectors to temporarily work from home as a precautionary measure and pursuant to Gov. Tim Walz’s Executive Orders.
This decision will continue through 30 calendar days after the expiration of any peacetime emergency or Aug. 30, 2020, whichever is later, so long as the following criteria are met:
1) The activity is conducted from the home location of an individual working on behalf of a Minnesota licensee;
2) The individual is working from home due to a reason relating to the COVID‐19 outbreak and has informed the licensee of such reason.
3) None of the activity will be conducted in person with members of the public from the home location; and
4) The licensee shall, at all times, exercise supervision of the activity being performed at the home office and ensure that appropriate safeguards and controls are in place to protect consumer information and data.
The commissioner may amend, revise, or extend this position at any time and at his discretion. This does not constitute a permanent statutory or regulatory exemption from licensure. This is a response to the current COVID‐19 outbreak to ensure the safety and wellness of all licensees and their employees.
Stay Safe Minnesota Order
Gov. Walz issued a new “New Stay Safe Minnesota” order modifying the state’s stay at home order set to expire on May 18. The governor also extended the peacetime state of emergency for an additional 30 days, which enables him to take executive actions such as the stay at home order and closing schools, bars and restaurants.
Under the Stay Safe Minnesota order, retail stores, malls and other main street businesses can reopen if they have a safety plan and operate at no more than 50 % occupancy. Restaurants, bars, salons and gyms remain closed. Social gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. The order states that workers should, “continue to work from home whenever possible. Any worker who can work from home must do so.”
Gov. Walz also issued an executive order exempting stimulus payments from garnishment and suspending provisions of Minnesota statutes relating to collections, notably those relating to garnishments.
The order prohibits creditors from garnishing, attaching, or otherwise seizing—including by contractual offset, e.g., by financial institutions—any stimulus checks issued under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It further exempts from attachment any other "government emergency support funds," e.g., those that may be paid out by state, local, or tribal governments. The exemption does not extend to attachments related to domestic support.
More broadly—and unexpectedly—the governor’s order suspends Minnesota Statutes Chapter 571, which pertains to garnishments. On this issue, the order states:
"Beginning immediately, the provisions in Minnesota Statutes 2019, Chapters 571, which permit service of a garnishment summons on a consumer debtor or consumer garnishee, are suspended. For the purposes of this Executive Order, the terms "Consumer Debtor" and "Consumer Garnishee" have the definition of "debtor" and "garnishee" as used in Minnesota Statutes section 571.712, subdivisions 2(b) and 2(c), when applied to debtors and garnishees who are natural persons and whose debt originated from the purchase of goods or services purchased primarily for a personal, family, or household purpose, and not for a commercial, agricultural, or business purpose."
Notably, the penalties provision set forth in the order states that "[i]f a financial institutions acts on a pre-existing garnishment summons and garnishes funds exempted from garnishment [under] this Executive Order without actual knowledge of its source, the financial institution is not liable for any action under this Executive Order." The order contains no corresponding safe-harbor provision for judgment creditors, which raises uncertainty about how the order will be enforced against judgment creditors who have no knowledge of the sources of funds in accounts that they have garnished.
In addition, the order suspends provisions of Minnesota law relating to pre-judgment garnishments as well as provisions of Minnesota law, i.e., MINN. STAT. 550.011, relating to "judgment debtor disclosures," often called debtor interrogatories.
The order does not suspend the accrual of interest on outstanding debt.
The order remains in effect until the "peacetime emergency" declared in Executive Order 20-01 is terminated or until it is rescinded.
Missouri Stay at Home Order and Guidance for Businesses
The essential worker functions are set forth in guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. For offices and workplaces that remain open, where feasible, individuals should work from home.
Montana Stay at Home Order and Guidance for Businesses
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock issued a new directive outlining the reopening of the state and extending the Stay at Home Directive for individuals until Sunday, April 26 and for non-essential businesses until Monday, April 27 Following the expiration of the Stay at Home Directive, businesses are no longer designated essential or non-essential, except as otherwise provided in the directive.
The directive requires restaurants, bars, breweries, distilleries, and casinos to remain closed until May 4 and for places of assembly such as gyms, pools, theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, bingo halls, and music halls to remain closed. The directive also establishes guidance to reopening non-essential businesses.
Financial and real estate services and institutions identified as essential in the state's original stay at home order include: banks, consumer lenders, including but not limited, to pawnbrokers, accountants, consumer installment lenders and sales finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, realtors or others providing real estate services, title companies, financial markets, trading and futures exchanges, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, and institutions selling financial products.
The Montana Secretary of State is waiving late fees on business registrations due by April 15. This applies to agencies that hold a Certificate of Authority in Montana. Between now and July 15, the Secretary of State’s office will not be charging an extra fee for late filers.
Nevada Financial Institutions Division (Home Page)
Update: The Nevada Financial Institutions Division sent out the guidance below to licensees regarding the extension of debt collection prohibitions in the state until May 30, 2020.
To Whom It May Concern:
In NFID efforts to keep licensees apprised of events in the State of Nevada regarding collection agency operations, please be advised Gov. Steve Sisolak’s prior directive placing a moratorium on collections has been extended until June 30, 2020. Therefore, the moratorium placed on collections has not been lifted. For members' reference, see the attached Directive 021, section 37, signed by the governor on May 28, 2020.
(View the guidance for collection activities here.) The NFID has clarified that the directive “applies to any collections involving Nevada residents. The agencies should contact each state regulator to ensure compliance in each state.”
Additional Clarification from the Financial Institutions Division:
Based upon the above, a collection agency is deemed a non-essential business at this time. Accordingly, the Nevada Financial Institutions Division must enforce the governor’s mandatory emergency directive and direct all collection agencies holding a license under Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 649 and located in this state to close until May 30, 2020, unless otherwise modified or withdrawn by Gov. Sisolak. All collection agencies holding a license or certificate under Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 649 and located out-of-state must cease collection efforts with Nevada consumers/residents effective midnight tonight until May 30, unless otherwise modified or withdrawn by Gov. Sisolak.
Are non-collection activities that can be performed remotely allowed? "This should be okay".
Can agencies process payments that come in voluntarily? Yes, if the consumer initiates the communication/payment and they want to pay and/or have the ability to do so".
Starting May 1:
- Retail businesses will be allowed to operate under curbside commerce models, like curbside pickup currently allowed for restaurants and eateries.
- Drive-in services will be permitted for places of worship.
- Restrictions on outdoor activities will be relaxed.
All other directives currently in effect will be extended through May 15, or until the state meets the necessary criteria.
New Hampshire Guidance for Businesses
Under New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s stay at home order, all businesses and other organizations that do not provide essential services shall close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers, and the public and cease all in person operations and shall not re-open to workers, customers or the public or resume in person operations before 12:01 a.m. on May 4, 2020.
Essential services include: Financial Services · Banks, financial services institutions, credit unions, insurance, payroll, regional development corporations, and accounting services · Workers who are needed to process and maintain systems for processing financial transactions and services (e.g., payment, clearing, and settlement; wholesale funding; insurance services; and capital markets activities) · Workers who are needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services, including ATMs, and to move currency and payments (e.g., armored cash carriers) · Workers who support financial operations, such as those staffing data and security operations centers.
State of New Jersey Issues stay-at-home order and closure of non-essential businesses. Gov. Phil Murphy extended the state's public health emergency and stay at home order for an additional 30 days, at least through May 8, 2020.
Gov. Murphy also previously signed Executive Order No. 107, directing all residents to stay at home until further notice. The order provides for certain exceptions, such as obtaining essential goods or services, seeking medical attention, visiting family or close friends, reporting to work, or engaging in outdoor activities. For additional information on COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus and its impact on businesses, please visit the State of New Jersey business portal at https://cv.business.nj.gov.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has extended the state’s emergency public health order through May 31. The new order will allow most retailers to operate at 25 % of their maximum occupancy as determined by fire code.
The new order will begin Saturday, May 16, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Under the order, everyone will be required to wear a face mask in public spaces and the stay-at-home order remains in effect.
The following business will be allowed to reopen with these occupancy limits:
- Retail: 25 %
- Offices, Call Centers: 25 %
- “Big Box” stores, large retailers: 20 %
- Houses of Worship: 10 %
Movie theaters, concert halls, amusement parks, dine-in at restaurants, indoor malls, salons and gyms will remain closed for now.
According to the governor’s press release, the new reopening order will not apply in the northwest corner of the state — where COVID-19 infections continue to surge.
The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department has issued Temporary Regulatory Guidance regarding Work from Home due to COVID-19 concerns.
The New Mexico Financial Institutions Division also issued a directive stating that all businesses licensed and regulated by the financial institutions division are considered "Essential" businesses under the health department guidelines and are allowed to remain open. An order issued by Secretary of Health Kathy Kunkel and effective March 24 closes all non-essential businesses, requiring 100 percent of the state’s non-essential workforce to work from home.
On May 14, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order extending many of the state’s existing orders requiring residents to stay at home, limiting social gatherings and requiring non-essential business closures until May 28.
In the order, Cuomo specified five regions that have reached public health and safety benchmarks set forth by the New York Department of Health and are able to begin Phase One reopening on May 15. Additional regions that meet these benchmarks will be incorporated into this new order and will be permitted to begin Phase One reopening. All enforcement mechanisms for reopening shall remain in effect until June 13, 2020 unless extended or amended by a future Executive Order.
The five regions that have met the benchmark for reopening include: Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Southern Tier.
Phase One industries able to open under health, safety and social distancing guidelines include construction; agriculture; forestry; fishing and hunting; retail (limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off); manufacturing; and wholesale trade.
View the business guidance for phase one reopening here.
The New York State Department of Economic Development also issued new guidance for determining whether a business enterprise is subject to a workforce reduction under recent executive orders and to assist businesses in determining whether they are an essential business. Financial institutions deemed essential, except debt collection, include: banks or lending institution, insurance, payroll, accounting, and services related to financial markets.
The attorney general and governor suspended collections of medical, student and some other state-owed debt for at least 30 days, until April 16, 2020. There may be an extension after that time. Read more from ACA here.
On April 17, New York Attorney General Letitia James issued guidance clarifying that stimulus payments under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are exempt from garnishment. According to the guidance, CARES Act payments are aimed at consumers' essential needs, "and therefore should not be subject to garnishment and similar legal process[es]. Banking institutions are advised that they should treat CARES Act payments as subject to the same protections as statutorily exempt payments."
North Carolina Govenor (Home Page)
On May 20, Gov. Roy Cooper signed an order to move the state into Phase 2 of its reopening plan. The new order lifts the stay at home order at 5 p.m. Friday, May 22 but individuals are strongly encouraged to telework to the greatest extent permissible by their employer. Some restrictions will remain in place and certain businesses (bars, gyms, theaters) must remain closed.
Mass gatherings with limited exemptions, more than 10 people indoors or more than 25 people outdoors, continue to be prohibited.
The original statewide stay at home order directs people to stay at home except to visit essential businesses, to exercise outdoors or to help a family member or friend. The order also bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to stay at least six feet apart from others. Gov. Cooper also previously ordered additional limitations on mass gatherings and a limited closure of some businesses. The order can be found here.
Essential Businesses include: Financial and insurance institutions. Bank, currency exchanges, consumer lenders, including but not limited to, pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders and sales finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, financial markets, trading and futures exchanges, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, and institutions selling financial products. They also include insurance companies, underwriters, agents, brokers, and related insurance claims and agency services institutions, and institutions selling financial products, insurance companies, underwriters, agents, brokers, and related insurance claims and agency services.
Counties and municipalities in North Carolina also issued stay at home orders. In Durham, essential businesses include financial and insurance institutions. Banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions, where such services cannot be provided online or digitally, which is the preferred alternative, and provided said institutions observe and implement social distancing practices in the provision of in-person services. Individuals
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey issued an extended order requiring deferral of payments to help consumers affected by the COVID-19 health emergency. It is in effect until May 27, 2020. Under the new order, the deferral of premium and debt payments and required under North Carolina General Statute § 58-2-46(2) will apply to all payments coming due under this Eetended order, including payments previously deferred under the order of March 27, 2020, as amended March 30, 2020.
The original amended order regarding the collection of debt and payment deferrals under NCS 58-2-46 is available here. The department subsequently issued an updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) associated with the Commissioner’s Order.
In addition, the Commissioner of Insurance has provided the following guidance: If a consumer contacts a debt collector concerning a payment, the debt collector should (1) advise the consumer that he or she may defer payments for 30 days, as per the statute [NCGS 58-2-46(2)], and (2) state that no fees would apply to this deferral of payment. The COI does not interpret the statute to impose an affirmative requirement to preemptively notify debtors of the waiver option, e.g., via a calling campaign or letter campaign. But debt collectors do have an obligation to offer the deferred payment to debtors when discussing payments with debtors.
The order states that compliance with the provisions North Carolina General Statute §58-2-46 is required of all insurance companies, premium finance companies, collection agencies, and other persons subject to North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 58.
should only leave their homes for financial or insurance services if the need to access such services is of a critical or emergency nature. Financial service providers are strongly urged to make web-based or digital services available as a first option for clients.
Ohio Governor Issues Stay at Home Order (Home Page)
On May 20, Gov. Mike DeWine signed a new order that rescinds and modifies the Stay Safe Ohio order and released a new "Ohioans Protecting Ohioans Urgent Health Advisory,” which replaces the Stay Safe Ohio order that was issued by the Ohio Department of Health on April 30, 2020.
The new health advisory replaces language requiring Ohioans to stay at home with limited exceptions. The advisory strongly recommends that citizens, especially those who are high-risk, stay at home as much as possible. The order does not change the mass gathering restrictions, which remain at a 10-person limit.
The new health advisory also lifts overall travel restrictions and the requirement to quarantine for individuals traveling to or returning to Ohio.
Gov. DeWine previously outlined the state’s plan to slowly reopen some businesses. The full details of the plans and protocols for businesses to reopen can be found here.
Members may refer to the following information for direction on essential businesses, which does include affiliates of financial institutions. (Emphasis added.)
- Workers who are needed to process and maintain systems for processing financial transactions and services (e.g., payment, clearing, and settlement; wholesale funding; insurance services; and capital markets activities)
- Workers who are needed to provide consumer access to banking and lending services, including ATMs, and to move currency and payments (e.g., armored cash carriers)
- Workers who support financial operations, such as those staffing data and security operations centers.
Oklahoma Governor Issues Executive Order (Home Page)
Effective March 25 through April 16, 2020, all businesses not identified as being within a critical infrastructure sector as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and located in a county experiencing community spread of COVID-19, as identified by OSDH on its website, shall close, according to an executive order from Gov. Kevin Stitt. Additional sectors may be designated as critical by Executive Order or Memorandum.
Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (Home Page)
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Division of Financial Regulation issued new guidance to all Oregon-regulated collection agencies and debt buyers.
The division encourages its regulated debt buyers and collection agencies to take active measures to provide help to debtors affected by the outbreak.
Regulated entities should:
- Be willing to accommodate debtors who have stated that they have hardships resulting from the outbreak, such as reduced income, reduced hours, lost employment, or illness.
- Offer payment accommodations, such as allowing a debtor to defer payments, extending payment due dates, or otherwise adjusting terms of existing payment plans.
- Waive late payment fees or online payment fees.
- Waive nonsufficient funds fees or reduce them to match out-of-pocket costs.
- Temporarily suspend collection activities for debtors who have significant financial or medical hardship.
- If you suspend activity on one account of a debtor, suspend activity on all accounts of that debtor.
- Stop collection activity against debtors with no access to assets whose only source of income is an exempt source, such as Social Security.
- A debtor may decide to pay the debt with economic impact payments from the stimulus funds, but Gov. Kate Brown's executive order prevents creditors and debt collectors from garnishing a debtor's CARES Act recovery rebate payment.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order to protect CARES Act stimulus payments to individuals from most garnishments. Members of ACA’s Oregon Collectors Association worked with the governor in support of the effort and approved of the language in the executive order.
The order states: "All CARES Act Recovery Rebates exempt from garnishment pursuant to this Executive Order and related guidance shall remain exempt when deposited into an account in a financial institution, in the same manner as other funds described in ORS 18.348(3)."
Gov. Brown also issued an executive order with stay-at-home-requirements and for certain business closures. Businesses should facilitate temporary work from home or telework programs to the extent possible. The order is in effect until terminated by the governor.
Pennsylvania Business Guidance
Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine extended the state’s stay-at-home orders through June 4. The orders continue to open 24 counties in the state that meet certain criteria associated with the COVID-19 response. The governor is expected to announce new counties that will have additional restrictions lifted. Harder hit areas around Philadelphia are not expected to meet that criteria.
View the governor’s FAQs regarding business operation during the green, yellow and red phases of reopening.
The new signed orders and “phase yellow” opening criteria lined out by the governor and Secretary of Health may be found here.
In March, Gov. Wolf issued a proclamation requiring closure of “non-life-sustaining businesses." Enforcement actions against businesses that do not close physical locations began on Saturday, March 21.
The proclamation states: “No person or entity shall operate a place of business in the Commonwealth that is not a life sustaining business regardless of whether the business is open to members of the public. This prohibition does not apply to virtual or telework operations (e.g., work from home), so long as social distancing and other mitigation measures are followed in such operations.”
Accordingly, as in California, it appears that collections operations in Pennsylvania may continue with staff working remotely, but agencies should be mindful of the challenges that telecommuting may impose under other state and federal laws.
Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (Home Page)
The Rhode Island Attorney General issued guidance April 28 regarding the exemption of CARES Act payments, stating, “It is the attorney general’s opinion that, under Rhode Island law, all CARES Act recovery (“rebate”) payments provided to Rhode Islanders under Section 2201 of Title II of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No. 116-136 are exempt from attachment and execution.”
Gov. Gina Raimondo signed a new executive order lifting the state’s stay at home order and allowing the limited reopening of noncritical retail stores and offices with capacity and social distancing limits in place. The new order remains in effect until May 23. Under the order, “employers must still encourage working remotely to the greatest extent possible. Any person who can work remotely should continue to do so. Employees of office-based businesses who must go to work should only do so only if absolutely necessary and for a limited period of time.”
All Rhode Island residents are required to stay home unless traveling to work, traveling for medical treatment or obtaining necessities (food, medicine, gas, etc.). Any Rhode Island employer with employees who live in other states shall use all means available to enable these employees to telecommute or make other work from-home arrangements. This order will remain effect until May 8 unless renewed, modified, or terminated by a subsequent Executive Order. The state has not issued any specific guidance regarding having staff work from home for debt collectors during the COVID-19 situation, according to Rebecca Specht, assistant supervisor of examinations for the Rhode Island Division of Banking. The only guidance given is for the mortgage industry, available here.
South Carolina Stay at Home Order and Guidance for Businesses
Gov. Henry McMaster announced that the statewide "Work-or-Home" order will be lifted and returned to voluntary status on May 4. The governor also announced that beginning on May 4, restaurants may provide outdoor customer dining service in addition to existing take out, curbside, and delivery services.
The governor also announced that he has lifted Executive Order 2020-19 restricting lodging and travel in the state.
Gov. McMaster originally issued the statewide "home or work order," expanding on his previous order to close some non-essential businesses and businesses with close-contact services. Like the previous order essential operations include: Individuals performing or assisting with military, health care, public safety, or emergency response operations, as well as any other operations or services identified by the United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in its March 28, 2020 Memorandum, or any future amendments or supplements thereto, as essential to continued critical infrastructure viability.
Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance (Home Page)
Gov. Bill Lee issued a statewide stay at home order that is now extended to April 30, 2020.
Essential personnel and services include personnel identified on pages 5-15 of the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response issued by the Cybersecurity and infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Financial institutions and insurance entities deemed essential include, but are not limited to: banks, currency exchanges, consumer lenders, including but not limited to payday lenders, pawnbrokers, consumer installment lenders, sales finance lenders, credit unions, appraisers, title companies, financial markets, trading and futures exchanges, affiliates of financial institutions, entities that issue bonds, related financial institutions, institutions selling financial products, insurance companies, underwriters, insurance agents, insurance brokers, and related insurance claims and agency services.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance announced that “[t]he Statute and Rules have been reviewed and it has been determined there is no prohibition for remote work from home as long as a branch business location is still maintained, and the location is on record on your license file. Of course, it is expected that all collection activities will remain in accordance with applicable State and Federal requirements.”
Vermont Governor's Office (Home Page)
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan issued a directive that payments authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, are exempt from garnishment or collection under Vermont law. The attorney general is also urging the banking community to voluntarily suspend collection activity for overdrafts or other administrative fees that could otherwise jeopardize the receipt, reallocation, and circulation of stimulus monies issued to Vermont residents as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Vermont law exempts these monies from garnishment or collection under 12 V.S.A. § 2740(19)(I). That statute provides that "compensation for loss of future earnings" is exempt from garnishment or collection as a "property traceable to [an individual’s] right to receive, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of [an individual]" and any dependents of the individual.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott extended the state's stay at home order until May 15, 2020. All businesses and non-profits are to institute work from home procedures to the extent possible and all residents are to "stay home, stay safe," with the exception of those performing critical services. For the purpose of clarifying "stay home, stay safe," the Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development is directed to clarify that essential services provided by financial, legal and professional services are allowed to facilitate assistance to Vermont residents seeking to take advantage of state and federal financial support made available in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
Gov. Scott also announced an addendum to the stay at home order that outdoor recreation and limited social interactions may resume under strict health and safety precautions, as state modeling continues to indicate a slow in the spread of COVID-19.
Virginia Governor's Office (Home Page)
Gov. Ralph Northam announced a three-phase plan to ease restrictions on businesses and gatherings, when health data supports these actions, according to a news release. Phase one includes safer at home recommendations, no social gatherings of more than 10 individuals, continued social distancing, continued teleworking, face coverings recommended in public, and easing limits on business and faith communities. Each phase could last two to four weeks, or longer.
On Tuesday, May 12, Northam issued updates to the executive order allowing specific localities in the northern Virginia region near Washington, D.C., to delay entering Phase One of the state reopening schedule to 11:59 a.m. May 28, 2020, according to a press statement. Other areas of the state may begin entering Phase One Friday, May 15. The executive order may be accessed here.
Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (Home Page)
Gov. Jay Inslee has extended the state’s stay at home order through May 31 to continue the social distancing strategy.
Businesses will reopen in four phases starting on May 5. Limited opening will include essential businesses, certain construction operations, auto sales, landscaping, retail curbside, car wash and pet walkers. Each phase is expected to be separated by at least three weeks. Smaller counties not hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis will be able to apply for a variance. Click here to view a summary of the state’s phased approach to reopening businesses.
Note that the Washington State Collection Agency Board has not approved remote collections activity, e.g., collections calling from locations for the which the licensee does not possess a branch license.
Gov. Inslee issued a proclamation to temporarily prohibit certain garnishments statewide until May 14. The proclamation suspends statutes that permit collection of consumer debt judgments, including bank account and wage garnishments, and waives the accrual of post-judgment interest on judgments of consumer debt.
View Gov. Inslee's previous extension of his "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" emergency order, which ended May 4, 2020. The original stay-at-home order in Washington states essential businesses are prohibited from operating under this Proclamation unless they establish and implement social distancing and sanitation measures established by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 at https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf and the Washington State Department of Health Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations at https://www.doh.wa.gov/Coronavirus/workplace
West Virginia Governor's Office (Home Page)
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice issued a stay-at-home order and guidance on essential and non-essential businesses. Under essential businesses it exempts professional debt collectors. Essential Businesses and Operations shall remain open, and individuals may leave their residence to provide any services or to perform any work necessary to offer, provision, supply, operate, maintain, and/or repair Essential Businesses and Operations. The executive order is in effect until terminated by a subsequent order from the governor.
Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (Home Page)
The Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state’s stay at home order by a 4-3 vote on May 13. The court ruled that Gov. Tony Evers overstepped his authority by extending the order through the end of May. The ruling immediately lifts all restrictions on businesses and gatherings imposed by the stay at home order but keeps in place the closure of schools until fall. Local governments can impose their own health restrictions and have started to move in that direction.
The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions has issued guidance on prohibited debt collection practices under the Wisconsin Consumer Act. According to the guidance, Chapter 427 of the Act specifies prohibited practices when attempting to collect payments under consumer credit transactions, including any "conduct which can reasonably be expected to threaten or harass the customer or person related to the customer." Under the current economic conditions, the department is advising debt collectors to be mindful of telephone communications, while "it cannot draw a precise boundary between permitted or prohibited communications with debtors, because each must be ‘considered in context.’"
The state of Wisconsin issued a stay at home order that will now remain in effect until 8 a.m. May 26, 2020.
Essential businesses include: Financial institutions and services, banks, credit unions, and other depository or lending institutions; licensed financial service providers; insurance services; personnel necessary to perform essential functions at broker dealers and investment advisor offices.
Both the statewide and Milwaukee Safer at Home Orders include licensed financial service providers in the list of essential businesses. Agencies licensed by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions should be considered essential business under both orders, however agencies are encouraged to seek their own legal clarification and to use their best judgment when operating under this order.
Wyoming Department of Audit (Home Page)
The department will be issuing a short memo on its website and to contacts from the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System. State regulations do not prevent licensees and collectors from teleworking, etc., but there are things they can't do such as print information from NMLS, etc. Additional guidance in a memo from the department’s chairman and attorney will be available soon.
This article will be updated regularly with timely information and remain on ACA’s home page. A notice will be published in ACA Daily when the article is updated.
For more information on how the ACA Licensing staff can assist with your licensing needs, please contact us at Licensing@acainternational.org or call (952) 926-6547.
Please check back often for updates to this page.
Daily Huddle Recordings
HT Recording: The New Pot of Gold for Owners and Leaders: How to PIVOT to Capitalize on the Biggest Opportunities During COVID-19
ACA Casts: COVID-19
The following sources of information are available from ACA and government organizations charged with providing guidance on specifics of COVID-19 from a public health and business perspective. ACA will update its available resources as needed to provide members the most current information and provide notification through an email alert and/or in ACA Daily.
Both the Federal and State Governments are discussing or enacting legislation and regulations that will impact both collection activity and business operations of our member agencies. ACA's advocacy and compliance teams are tracking all of this activity and will provide members with an update on the current landscape for receivables businesses. ACA CEO Mark Neeb, Corporate Counsel Colin Winkler, Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey, and Vice President State Government and Unit Affairs Andrew Madden will lead this webinar for members.
Resources from ACA International
News from Washington: COVID-19 Legislative and Regulatory Updates:
How ACA's advocacy team is working with legislators and regulators on Capitol Hill. Editor's note: This article is for members only.
ACA International has insurance, compliance and educational resources to help members take preventative action.
There is a lot of information circulating about emergency preparedness in the last few weeks; and it may be overwhelming. ACA International member Chris Meier provides a key tip: communicate, communicate, communicate.
For more information on how the ACA Licensing staff can assist with your licensing needs, please contact us at Licensing@acainternational.org or call (952) 926-6547. Member Services is also available at email@example.com or 800-269-1607.
Government, Compliance and Regulatory
BREAKING NEWS: The U.S. Small Business Administration released guidance about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), including a sample application accessible here. A fact sheet released by the U.S. Department of Treasury. Lenders will begin processing PPP loan applications on Friday, April 3, 2020. Although the program will accept applications until June 30, 2020, most experts anticipate that the $349 billion fund will be exhausted quickly. ACA’s “Daily Huddle” on Thursday (4/2/2020) at 11am will discuss SBA assistance so that members can be ready to apply on Friday.
CSBS has compiled state and federal resources to keep regulators, consumers and the industry better-informed about the COVID-19 pandemic, including a county-level map of confirmed cases, a glossary of state declarations of emergency, state agency nonbank guidance and more.
As the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation develops and state agencies send communication/guidance to licensees, information will be shared on this page.
View this resource for the latest information we have received from state agencies. Check back often for updates. ACA International will be monitoring this page to provide updates directly to members.
Guidelines to follow if you think you may be sick and to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
The CFPB also released a blog offering financial tips while federal, state and local governments work to respond to the coronavirus. The CFPB blog includes suggestions for addressing outstanding debts . If you have a debt in collections, contact your creditor or the collection agency for options to set up a reasonable payment plan.