SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The third round of stimulus checks started hitting bank accounts on Friday, March 12, but if you have unpaid debt, could that check be heading to a debt collector instead?

“This time, the only thing shielded from the stimulus checks is any back taxes,” said Holly Wilson, director of Consumer Credit Counseling Services. “The IRS will not collect, will not provide a partial payment because you have back taxes. They’re going to give you the whole stimulus check. They’re not going to take part of it because of those payments that are still outstanding.”

“For the average consumer, who is late on their credit card payments, is somebody going to come in and just take their stimulus check? And the answer is no,” said Wilson.

However, the same cannot be said for garnishments or unpaid debt like child support.

“The debt collectors do have to go through the courts before they can apply for any kind of relief,” said Wilson. “They should probably call their creditor right away and find out where their limits are.”

Dee Maples, director of housing and financial programs at Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, said these stimulus checks could be a lifesaver for financially strained or homeless people.

“It has a huge impact,” said Maples. “$1,400 Means that they could possibly put a down payment on an apartment and first month’s rent. It’s imperative that they have something to begin their life with.”

Maples says that people who are financially strained or homeless and have not filed their taxes should still file to receive a stimulus check.

Many in the Ozarks are also asking “Where is my COVID-19 stimulus check?”

If you log on to the IRS “Get My Payment Tool” you may see a message saying payment status not available.

The online tracker went live on Sunday, March 14, and the IRS says there is nothing to worry about.

Likely, the IRS doesn’t have enough information yet to send yo9u your money. The same thing happened last year on the first round of COVID relief money.

Millions of payments should be disbursed in the next few weeks. So, people should keep checking the payment too for updates.