RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — As another round of stimulus checks hit Virginian’s bank accounts and mailboxes, a new law from Attorney General Mark Herring and Del. Hala Ayala (D, 51st District) is ensuring that nearly all of the payments will help Virginians to support themselves and their families during the pandemic rather than getting swept up by debt collectors and creditors.

The bill was passed during last year’s special legislative session after it was discovered that the initial round of support payments issued by Congress as part of the CARES Act was left vulnerable to seizure or garnishment.

“The most recent round of federal payments represents a lifeline for so many Virginia families who are still struggling to make ends meet because of the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic. Virginians should not have to worry about creditors or debt collectors taking all of their much-needed stimulus money and I’m glad Delegate Ayala and I were able to work together to get this important legislation passed. As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, we must always put Virginians and their families first.”

Attorney General Mark Herring

Due to this bill, the first $1,200 of any COVID-related economic relief payments are exempt from garnishment by debt collectors and creditors.

“Attorney General Herring and I recognized that this could potentially be a serious problem and I’m really proud we were able to come up with and pass a solution. Thousands of Virginia families are still struggling to support themselves during this uncertain economic time and they need this stimulus funding to go towards food, rent, utilities and other necessities. This past year has forced us to come up with creative solutions in order to support Virginians and their families through these difficult times and I want to thank Attorney General Herring for his help with this legislation.”

Del. Hala Ayala, 51st District

If any Virginian believes that their economic relief payment has been unlawfully garnished or seized, they should assert their rights under the Emergency Relief Payments Exempt section of the Code of Virginia directly with the relevant collections agency or financial institution.