Debt collection agencies have tremendous incentive for collecting outstanding consumer debts. The companies receive compensation for directly working with original creditors in the collection of credit card and personal loan accounts.
Third party debt collectors also have the option to purchase debts for a fraction of what was originally owed. The incredible profit margins motivates bill collectors to pursue consumers until debts are paid off.
Sometimes, motivated debt collection agencies cross the legal line by violating a more than 40 year old consumer protection law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Enacted by the United States Congress, the FDCPA makes it illegal for third party debt collectors to engage in consumer harassment.
FDCPA Laws in Illinois
The primary objective of the FDCPA was to ensure every American consumers received protection against unscrupulous bill collector practices. Consumers living in Maine enjoy the same rights that consumers living in Arizona enjoy.
Shortly after passage of the FDCPA, a few states began passing their own versions of the federal consumer protection law. The intent of most states has been to mirror the legal language written into the FDCPA. A few states such as Illinois have strengthen the FDCPA by adding protections for consumers.
Illinois debt collection laws cover both debt buyers and debt collectors. However, the laws do not apply to lawyers and financial institutions. In Illinois, debt collection agencies have five years from the date of the last payment on a credit card account to pursue a delinquent debt.
How the FDCPA and Illinois Collection Laws Protect Consumers
One of the most effective ways third party debt collectors used to harass consumers involved calling consumers frequently throughout the day. As one of the key provisions written into the FDCPA, bill collectors are allowed to call consumers only between the hours of 8 am and 9 pm.
Repeated calls made outside of the permitted hours is grounds for you to consult with a FDCPA lawyer to determine whether your case is strong enough to file a civil lawsuit.
Under the FDCPA, debt collection agencies are prohibited from placing consumers on “bad debt” lists that are made public in attempts to shame consumers into paying off outstanding credit card and personal loan balances.
If a third party debt collector contacts you at work and the company has “reason to know” the phone calls are not allowed by your employer, you might have a case to place on a civil court docket.
Illinois FDCPA laws require bill collectors to obtain a license to collect delinquent consumer debts. State statute prevent debt collection agencies from issuing threats, using foul language, and implementing deceptive collection practices.
Under Illinois FDCPA laws, publicly shaming consumers into paying off debts is considered an illegal debt collection act. In addition, Illinois FDCPA laws make it illegal for bill collectors to post debt collection information on open correspondence, such as on a post card or on the outside of a standard letter size envelope.
Debt collection agencies bank on consumer ignorance when it comes to state and federal FDCPA laws. Make sure you level the legal playing field against a third party debt collector by speaking with an Illinois licensed FDCPA lawyer.
If you believe that a debt collector is violating Illinois’ FDCPA laws, you should seek the help of an FDCPA attorney. You may be able to seek up to $1,000 in damages for each violation of the FDCPA. An attorney will be able to help navigate you through the entire process.