Arizona Debt Collection Proceedings Adjusted Due to COVID-19 Restrictions
Across America, individuals and businesses are trying to cope with the health threat posed by the coronavirus as well as the massive economic harm that’s accompanied it. Debtors and creditors alike are facing financial pressures as well as government-imposed changes to the rules governing collections. Some states have placed severe restrictions on collection actions and some, including Arizona, have introduced procedural changes — among them the increased use of electronic filing and telephonic and video conferencing in place of court appearances.
If you’re looking to start a collection action or are wondering about the status of your claim now that most in-person proceedings have been halted, you should be aware of the effects COVID-19 has had on Arizona’s legal system, including:
- Justice Courts — Collection claims valued at less than $10,000, as well as evictions, are handled through Justice Courts, which were given authority to adjust their standards in response to COVID-19. The crisis has led some Justice Courts to increase the use of electronic filing. Eviction proceedings have also dropped sharply based both on legal directives and on business decisions by lending institutions.
- Superior Courts — Due to fear of exposure to coronavirus, the Maricopa County Superior Court made some procedural changes for debtor-creditor proceedings. Rather than filing in person, judgment creditors have been directed to submit papers seeking judgment against a garnishee by mail, fax, email or through a courthouse drop box. Debtors who would like a hearing on a writ of garnishment can schedule a telephonic session.
- Attorney General’s request to financial institutions — On March 19, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent a letter requesting that lenders and other financial institutions refrain for 90 days from taking certain collection actions against individuals who are struggling financially due to COVID-19. This is not a legal command but an appeal to banks to stop home foreclosures, vehicle repossessions, late fee assessments and negative credit reports for a three-month period.
If you have a collection case pending or are considering initiating an action, it’s critical to retain an advocate who has a deep understanding of the federal and state debt collection laws as well as the latest changes related to COVID-19. An attorney with a strong track record of helping creditors collect debts will increase the likelihood of a favorable result and help you avoid unnecessary complications.
Holcomb Law Firm, PC in Scottsdale handles a wide range of Arizona matters for creditors, including judgment domestication and judgment collection cases. For a free initial consultation regarding your case, please call or contact the firm online.