Joint Letter: 63 Organizations Call for Credit and Debt Protections to Address Financial Distress From COVID-19

Link to PDF version of this letter.

March 23, 2020

Call for Credit and Debt Protections to Address Financial Distress From COVID-19 

Dear Senator or Representative,

At a time when tremendous financial stress is coming — or has already arrived — for millions of people and small businesses in the United States owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress and the administration need to implement broad-based, efficient, and effective relief in these areas. And they need to do it swiftly.

A number of policy and legislative proposals from both the House and the Senate reflect these principles and priorities, and they need to be a part of the final package. These measures should include:

  1. Stopping all foreclosures, evictions, car repossessions, and utility shut-offs. Repayment can wait until this public health crisis abates; when that time comes options must be flexible and affordable.
  2. Ceasing all involuntary student loan debt collection, taking over student loan borrowers’ monthly payments for the duration of the crisis, and ensuring that all borrowers have had at least $10,000 in federal student loan debt cancelled.
  3. Suspending all debt collection activities, and all referrals to debt collectors or sales to debt buyers, including a halt to garnishment or offset of income, bank accounts, government payments and tax returns. Creditors should make broad allowances for consumers, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations who cannot make payments in a timely fashion. Credit card companies, banks, government agencies and others must accommodate everyone hit by the crisis.
  4. No late fees, default interest or compounding interest should accrue for any debt until the pandemic eases significantly and normal employment patterns resume. Banks should eliminate overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees.
  5. Stopping all negative credit reporting. No one should see their credit record harmed or as a result of the pandemic.
  6. Cap interest rates on new loans at 36% and ensure clear and enforceable prohibitions against predatory lenders and other profiteers taking advantage of people during a health crisis and severe economic stress.

Finance and debt related policies cannot take the place of a strong fiscal response, a focus on the health emergency, and the needs of workers, communities and small businesses. But they have a fundamentally important role to play in stopping the economic bleeding, and assuaging the very justified fears that many ordinary people have at this time.

Please also see the letter linked here from 17 consumer, civil rights, housing and labor organizations centered on similar themes and the need to provide meaningful assistance for all consumers affected by this ongoing crisis. 


Americans for Financial Reform


Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE)

Allied Progress

Arkansans Against Abusive Payday Lending

Boston Tax Help Coalition

Brazos Valley Financial Fitness Center

California Reinvestment Coalition

Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Popular Democracy

Center for Public Policy Priorities

Connecticut Legal Services, Inc.

Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Reports

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

East Bay Community Law Center

Faith in Texas

Georgia Watch

Greater Boston Legal Services on behalf of its low-income clients

Greenlining Institute

Helping Hands Ministry of Belton

Hispanic Federation

Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)


International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc.

Kentucky Equal Justice Center

Main Street Alliance

MHANY Management Inc.

Mission Asset Fund

Mississippi Center for Justice

Mobilization for Justice

Mountain State Justice


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

National Association of Consumer Advocates

National Center for Law and Economic Justice

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)

National Community Stabilization Trust

National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income clients)

National Employment Lawyers Association

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Housing Resource Center

National Urban League

NC Justice Center

People’s Action

Prospera Community Development

Public Good Law Center


Reinvestment Partners

San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment

SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center

Service Employees International Union

Shoreline Study Center

Statewide Poverty Action Network (WA)

Student Debt Crisis

Summit Co-Lab

Texas Appleseed

The Center for NYC Neighborhoods

Tzedek DC

United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Working Families Party