COVID 19 Emergency Declarations Related to Collections

Last updated: April 20, 2020

StateRelevant information related to collections
CaliforniaNon-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.
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 CCPA (for those subject to it).
ConnecticutCan work from home if the following are met:

  • Licensable activity is conduction form the home of an individual working on behalf of a CT licensee.
  • The individual is working from home for reasons relating to COVID-19 outbreak and has informed the Licensee of such reason in writing.
  • Individual maintains all necessary licenses to conduct collections.
  • Collections will not be conducted in the presence of other members in the household; and
  • Licensee must exercise reasonable supervision to establish safeguard and controls regarding consumer information and data security.
DelawareNo specific restrictions. However, 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) and HIPAA (for medical debt collectors).
FloridaNotice filing requirements for branch locations are suspended. When opening branch locations, agency should use its best efforts to provide written notification to the OFR, Division of Securities, as soon as possible, but not later than 5 days after establishing temporary location. Notice should include:

  • The temporary office address;
  • The entities involved;
  • The names of registered personnel working from the temporary address; and
  • A contact telephone number.
IllinoisBusinesses may continue operations with employees and 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) and HIPAA (for medical debt collectors).
The Department has issued further guidance stating that collectors who will work from a location other than the registered office should notify the department within 14 days of such information. In addition, the Department is encouraging debt collection agencies and debt buyers to work with consumers to modify payment schedules or suspend all collection activity for a period of no less than 60 days.
IowaEmployees are permitted to work from home or another alternate location, even if the residence or designated location is not a licensed or registered location.
KansasEmployees are permitted to work from home. However, it remains the responsibility of the company to oversee the activity of its employees and to conduct business in a compliant manner during this time. All companies must have temporary policies, procedures, and a plan for supervision in place.
LouisianaAgencies must reduce operations to continue with minimum contact of members of the public and essential employees. Agencies must require proper social distancing, adhering to the 10-person limitation on gathering size.
MarylandThe Division notes that all entities chartered and licensed by the Division are covered by the essential services list and therefore exempt from the state’s order. 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.
MassachusettsThe State has placed a prohibition on debt collection telephone calls, new collection lawsuits, initiating garnishment and other collection activities. The prohibition will be for ninety (90) days following the effective date or until the State of Emergency Period expires, whichever occurs first.
Regarding telephone calls specifically, there are two exemptions that allow:

  • 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; and
  • an attempt to collect a debt which is (or is alleged to be) owing as a result of a loan secured by a mortgage on real property or any attempt to collect a debt that is (or is alleged to be) owing by a tenant to an owner.
MichiganAgencies may implement temporary teleworking while the current state of emergency is in effect. While doing so, agencies must maintain proper personal supervision such as regular communication via telephone, video, etc.
MinnesotaThe department will not take action against any licensee who allows their individual registered collectors to temporarily work from home as a precautionary measure. This decision is effective through April 30, 2020.
Nevada Collection agencies have been deemed non-essential business at this time. 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 until April 16, 2020.
New Mexico All of the state’s non-essential workforce must work from home. Agencies are not considered an essential business under the order.
New York 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.
As it relates to other debts, the New York order requires collection agencies to attempt to implement remote-work procedures “to the maximum extent possible.” But, again, agencies must be mindful of the provisions of other federal and state laws when implementing telecommuting collections procedures.
North Carolina The Insurance Commissioner enacted emergency provisions which require entities covered to give consumers the option to defer payments that are due during the disaster proclamation for 30 days.
It is important to note that the emergency statute requires collectors and other covered entities to give consumers the option to defer, but it does not mean that collection efforts must stop or that there is a blanket deferral on all payments due. This option should be given to consumers, though.
Ohio Ohio issued an Order with requirements for essential and non-essential businesses. Below is information for essential businesses, which does include affiliates of financial institutions.

  • 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.
Oregon Businesses should facilitate temporary work from home or telework programs to the extent possible.
Pennsylvania The state has prohibited businesses from operating that are not life sustaining businesses, 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.
As such, 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.
Tennessee The state has stated that 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 the license file. Of course, it is expected that all collection activities will remain in accordance with applicable State and Federal requirements.
Washington Essential businesses are prohibited from operating unless they establish and implement social distancing and sanitation measures established by the United States Department of Labor’s Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.
Washington DC Washington DC has banned outbound collection efforts during the coronavirus pandemic. The new law goes into effect immediately and lasts until 60 days after the emergency ends. The law prohibits the outbound collection via any medium—phone calls, letters, electronic messages—to consumers from debt collectors and debt buyers. The law, however, allows for a debt collector to return consumer-initiated communications. The prohibition on outbound collection efforts explicitly does not apply to original creditors who are collecting on their own behalf.
West Virginia West Virginia 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, as described below, 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.
Wisconsin Wisconsin had issued guidance related prohibited debt collection practices under the Wisconsin Consumer Act. Under the current economic conditions, the department is advising debt collectors to be mindful of telephone communications and stated “it cannot draw a precise boundary between permitted or prohibited communications with debtors, because each must be ‘considered in context.’ However, conduct which can “reasonably be expected to threaten or harass the customer or person related to the customer” is not permissible. The department explained that practices that may have been typical or customary under normal conditions may be deemed harassment under conditions of a global pandemic.
WyomingState 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.