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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Massachusetts attorney general issues emergency regulation prohibiting certain debt collection practices

State Issues Covid-19 Massachusetts State Attorney General Debt Collection

State Issues

On March 27, the Massachusetts attorney general issued an emergency regulation that makes numerous standard debt collection actions an unfair and deceptive act or practice during the defined “state of emergency period.”  Specifically, the emergency regulation prohibits both creditors and debt collectors from: (i) initiating, filing, or threatening to file any collection lawsuit; (ii) initiating or threatening to initiate any legal or equitable remedy for garnishment, seizure, attachment or withholding of wages, earnings, property or funds; (iii) initiating or threatening to initiate repossession of a vehicle; (iv) applying for, causing to be served or enforced, or threatening to apply for or enforce any capias warrant; (v) visiting or threatening to visit the household or place of employment of any debtor; and (vi) confronting or communicating in public with any debt regarding collection. In addition, the regulation also prohibits debt collectors from initiating phone calls with debtors, unless necessary to discuss a rescheduled court appearance or at the request of the debtor. These prohibitions do not apply to debts secured by mortgage on real property or debt owed by a tenant to an owner. The regulation will remain in effect for the early of: (i) 30 days after the lifting of the declared state of emergency; or (ii) 90 days.

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