BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh is urging the federal administration to protect the stimulus checks authorized by the CARES Act, calling for them to ensure the payments will go to families and not straight to debt collectors.

Congress passed the CARES Act in late March to give direct economic relief to individuals and businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as it devastates the U.S. economy.

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However, the CARES Act does not explicitly designate the emergency stimulus payments exempt from garnishment from creditors, the attorney general said in a press release Monday.

He has joined a coalition of 25 other attorneys general calling to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to protect the CARES Act funds, and ensure they are protected from wage garnishment.

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“Millions of Americans are left jobless, unable to pay rent or provide for their families due to this unprecedented worldwide pandemic,” said Attorney General Frosh.  “The CARES Act payments were meant to benefit American families directly in meeting their immediate, most pressing needs, not to provide funds to debt collectors.”

The CARES Act authorizes the Treasury Department to give out emergency stimulus payments of up to $1,200 for eligible adults and up to $500 for eligible children.

“During this public health and economic crisis, the States do not believe that the billions of dollars appropriated by Congress to help keep hard-working Americans afloat should be subject to garnishment,” the attorneys general write.  “Treasury has stated that ‘[i]n the weeks immediately after the passage of the CARES Act, Americans will see fast and direct relief in the form of Economic Impact Payments,’ and we request Treasury’s assistance in ensuring Americans are able to retain that monetary relief.”

Attorney General Frosh joins the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection in signing today’s letter to the Treasury Department.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.