As Illinois consumer attorneys we were pleased to see that the Illinois Attorney General has a very informative website highlighting the protections provided by Illinois and Federal Law against abusive debt collection practices. You can link to the website here.
The Attorney General’s website describes how the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Illinois Collection Agency Act and the Illinois Consumer and Deceptive Business Practices Act can protect Illinois residents from debt collector abuse:
If you use credit cards, owe money on a loan or are paying off a home mortgage, you are a “debtor.” If you fall behind on your payments to these creditors, you may be contacted by a debt collector. You should know that the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Illinois Collection Agency Act and the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act all provide protections guaranteeing that debt collectors treat you fairly. These laws do not, however, forgive any legitimate debt you owe. Personal, family and household debts are covered under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Act. This includes money owed for medical care, charge accounts or car purchases.
A debt collector is any person other than the creditor who regularly collects or attempts to collect debts that are owed to others and that resulted from consumer transactions. This includes attorneys who collect debts on a regular basis. A collector can contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram or e-mail. However, a collector may not contact you at unreasonable times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves. A debt collector may contact people other than you or your attorney to find out where you live or work, but may not tell anyone other than you or
your attorney that you owe money.
Once a debt collector has notified you by phone, he or she must, within five days, send you a written notice revealing the amount you owe, the name of the creditor to whom you owe money, and what to do if you dispute the debt. A debt collector may NOT:
• harass, oppress or abuse anyone (i.e., use threats, obscene or profane language, etc.);
• make false statements when collecting a debt (includes implying that you have committed a crime or saying you will be arrested or criminally prosecuted if the debt isn’t paid); or
• engage in unfair practices such as forcing you to accept collect calls or pay for telegrams or collect interest or fees in excess of the debt, unless authorized by the agreement creating the debt.
You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collection agency telling him or her to stop. Once the agency receives your letter, it may not contact you again except to notify you that some specific action will be taken.
Disputing a Debt
A debt collector may not contact you if, within 30 days after the collector’s first contact, you send the collector a letter stating that you do not owe the money. If, however, the collector sends you proof of the debt, such as a copy of the bill, the collector can resume collection activities.
Our consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action unfair debt collection and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totalling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle is proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.
Our Naperville, Aurora, Waukegan, Joliet, Elgin, Highland Park, Northbrook, Wilmette, Wheaton, Oak Brook, and Chicago consumer lawyers provide assistance in fair debt collection, consumer fraud and consumer rights cases including in Illinois and throughout the country. You can click here to see a description of the some of the many individual and class-action consumer cases we have handled. A video of our lawsuit which helped ensure more fan friendly security at Wrigley Field can be found here. You can contact one of our Chicago area consumer protection lawyers who can assist in lemon law, unfair debt collection, junk fax, prerecorded telephone solicitations, and other consumer, consumer fraud or consumer class action cases by filling out the contact form at the side of this blog or by clicking here.