Who can legally take your stimulus check money?

Government can withhold stimulus checks; bill collectors can’t ask for stimulus money to pay off old debt

Who can legally take your stimulus check money?

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 News Investigative Reporter Hannah Catlett continues to field viewer questions about stimulus checks.

Do you really have the right to choose how to spend that money?

Turns out, the government is allowed under federal law to withhold some or all of someone’s stimulus check in some situations.

But, we discovered that debt collectors could get in trouble for settling up on an old bill right now.

Attorney General Dave Yost posted a video to Facebook, assuring people that they are protected from having to fork over their stimulus checks to pay off old debt.

“I want you to know that under Ohio law, those payments are protected from bill collectors,” he said. “The money was meant for an emergency in a time like this.”

He says the payments are meant to put food on the table and keep a roof over your family’s head.

“It wasn’t meant to go pay off an old bill,” Yost said.

His office wants to know if someone tells you otherwise.

“In the event that somebody [tries] to nab your stimulus payment for an old debt, let us know. We might be able to help you,” Yost said.

While that message is reassuring to most, there is one type of debt that can prevent someone from getting a check.

Jennifer Tultz with the Summit County Child Support Enforcement Agency says while the economic stimulus bill congress passed includes some provision for those in debt right now, back child support payments are something prosecutors can still go after.

In fact, just like someone’s tax return can be taken to put towards back child support, the stimulus check can be intercepted too.

“That payment would be intercepted if you owed that debt,” she said. “I do realize that not everyone is going to agree with the process, but it is important for families to provide food and shelter.”

She says we’ll see the checks withheld nationwide-- not just in Ohio or Summit County.

The Summit County Prosecutor’s office put additional information on its website about child support payments in this time:

I’m laid off due to COVID19, what should I do about my child support?

  • If you are laid off due to COVID19 and have filed for unemployment, your child support will be deducted from your weekly unemployment payment. Unemployment will not deduct more than 50% of your weekly benefit amount prior to any deductions to pay your support obligations.
  • You may also be eligible for a modification of your support order. You may request a review by printing out a Request for a Review and Adjustment from our Forms page on this website and mailing it to us at 175 South Main St, Akron, Ohio 44308.

I have an administrative hearing scheduled at the Summit CSEA. Will it go forward?

  • Yes, scheduled administrative hearings are still going forward as scheduled. However, rather than appearing at our building, the hearing officer will call you and the other parent at the scheduled time. All administrative hearings are being conducted over the phone. Please ensure that the CSEA has an updated phone number and address so that you don’t miss the hearing. Please update your address, phone number and employment by sending us a message through the Child Support Customer Service Web Portal at jfs.ohio.gov/ocs, or by calling the CSEA at 330.643.2765.

How can I make my child support payments during COVID19?

  • Summit County CSEA has several ways parents can make their child support payment without traveling to our office in person!
    • Online from a checking or savings account or by debit or credit card, free of charge, by visiting https://oh.smartchildsupport.com.
    • By phone with a debit or credit card by calling (888)-965-2676.
    • By mail at Ohio Child Support Payment Central, P.O. Box 182372, Columbus, Ohio 43218-2372.
    • At any MoneyGram location using code 14674 and including your SETS case number and court or administrative order number. There is a fee for using this service. MoneyGram locations found by visiting www.moneygram.com.
    • At any child support enforcement agency in the state if they accept payments. A list of agencies accepting payments can be found by visiting http://jfs.ohio.gov/Ocs/employers/CSPC_Overview.stm.
    • Accepted credit/debit cards are Discover, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, China UnionPay, Diners Club International, and JCB.
    • Accepted alternate payment options include Alipay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and WeChat Pay.
    • Minimum payment of $1.00 required for credit/debit card and other alternate forms of payment.

How can I reach CSEA during COVID19?

  • By calling (330) 643-2765
  • By sending a secure message through the Ohio Child Support Customer Service Web Portal at jfs.ohio.gov/ocs

How can I submit documentation to CSEA?

    • Send an email to summitcseadocs@jfs.ohio.gov with your case number in the subject line
    • Send a fax to (330) 643-2745 with your case number on all documents
    • Mail to Summit County CSEA, 175 South Main Street, Akron, Ohio 44308
    • Drop box at 175 South Main Street, 5th floor, Akron, Ohio 44308 (least preferred method during COVID19)

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