New York halts debt collection in response to coronavirus

Coronavirus

Twenty dollar bills are peeled and counted. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

NEW YORK (NEWS10) — New Yorkers with student, medical, and other state debt will see payments frozen for at least 30 days as the attorney general and governor temporarily suspend state debt collection.

My office will not add undue stress or saddle New Yorkers with unnecessary financial burden. … This is the time when New Yorkers need to rally around each other and pick each other up, which is why I am committed to doing everything in my power to support our state’s residents.

Attorney General Letitia James

Because a self-isolated workforce and socially distant consumers avoiding germy crowds have forced a slowdown of commerce, Attorney General Letitia James and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday that New York will temporarily stop collecting on debts referred to the Office of the Attorney General for collection.

Over 165,000 cases qualify for short-term waiving of state debt collection:

  • Patients with medical debt due to the five state hospitals and the five state veterans’ home
  • Individuals and select business and property owners who owe for oil spill cleanup and removal or breach of contract
  • Students owing SUNY campuses

Suspending collections from March 17 through April 16 will ease the financial burdens of workers and families, according to a statement from James’ office. After 30 days, the attorney general will consider whether an extension would be necessary.

We are doing everything we can to support the thousands of New Yorkers who are suffering as a result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This new action to temporarily suspend the collection of debt owed to the state will help mitigate the financial impact of the outbreak on individuals, families, communities and businesses in New York as we continue to do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

The OAG will also accept applications to suspend any other type of debt due New York state and sent to collections at their office. Apply for this temporary relief online, or learn more by phone or at the OAG’s coronavirus website.

The OAG says the policy will also automatically interrupt accrued interest and fees on outstanding state medical and student debt.

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