Fired waitress says quick lender seized her COVID stimulus payment | Investigations

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – Stimulus checks and unemployment benefits are starting to arrive, a boon for some workers and their families, but also a tremendous opportunity for banks and creditors who can grab those funds.

Lawmakers, including Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, have warned of this issue and its potential impact on some of the most financially fragile people during this pandemic.

After being laid off from her job at a restaurant, Nicole Garcia said she planned to use her stimulus check for groceries before seeing…

Nicole Garcia is one of those people. She fell on hard times and took out a loan from Speedy Cash in November. Garcia made payments, but she was fired about a month ago when the restaurant where she worked closed.

She said she plans to use her stimulus check and unemployment benefits for a pretty basic purpose — buying groceries. Then, Garcia said, the lender stole her stimulus and unemployment money while she slept.

“They will forcibly withdraw money from your account at 1 a.m. and basically leave you homeless and hungry,” she told KCTV5 News.

Garcia admits she is behind on her payments and said when she called to complain about what happened, Speedy Cash pointed that out.

“‘You didn’t repay your loan, and that’s your responsibility,'” she recalled telling them, adding that she “agreed 100%” with them. “I was like, ‘It’s my loan that I have to pay back, it’s my responsibility.’ But I said with the current situation going on, under a national emergency and a pandemic, wouldn’t you make an exception not to physically withdraw a lump sum of money?”


Garcia’s account statements show Speedy Cash seized $1,937.62, leaving him with only $8.17.

“Everything, all my money was gone,” she recalls. “At first I thought it was a mistake. I was like, ‘Oh, that can’t be true.

That’s what worries lawmakers who have warned that something like this could and will happen, with banks and creditors seizing stimulus checks and turning money intended to help people like Garcia survive into a backdoor bailout for creditors.

Hawley sent a letter to the Treasury Department more than a week ago, noting that “the Treasury has the authority — and must exercise it — to also protect CARES Act Direct Payments from seizure to satisfy orders. garnishment for private debts”.

KCTV5 News contacted Speedy Cash about the practice. Company officials said they had no way of knowing when customers might receive a stimulus check and were definitely not targeting them.



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The company says it still offers easy, fast and customer-friendly cash loans, though Garcia wonders how she was forced to settle with the lender.

“It’s money that people basically live or die on,” she said. “I just think that’s a horrible way to run a business or any type of society.”

Garcia said that in all this mess, she was grateful to her roommates and her former employer who provide meals for laid-off workers so they don’t go hungry.

Late Friday, Garcia offered an update, texting KCTV5 News “I just got a call from Speedy Cash, they’re refunding me the full amount and forfeiting my owed $150 loan.”

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