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Your Rights When Dealing With Debt Collectors

Debt Collection Lawyer

Chicago Fair Debt Collection Practices Act Attorneys

Illinois Debt Collector Abuse Lawyers

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act provides rules debt collectors must follow when attempting to collect a debt. Even if you have no actual injuries resulting from a debt collector’s abusive conduct, the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act allows you to recover up to $1000 in damages if those rules are violated. Depending on the situation, you may also be able to obtain compensation for actual injuries.

A debt collector cannot contact you once you have advised them that you have retained an attorney. If you have experienced abusive behavior by a debt collector or faced debt collection harassment, contact Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC, for a free consultation. Our Chicago Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lawyers have successfully sued dozens of collection agencies to stop debt collection abuse and have obtained monetary damages for many of our clients.

Who Is a Debt Collector?

A debt collector is somebody who is trying to collect a debt for another party, or somebody who purchased a delinquent debt. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act does not apply to companies or individuals trying to collect on a debt owed directly to them, unless they acquired it after it was in default, or pretend to be a third party.

Debt Collections

Unless you pay the debt, a debt collector is required to send you a written notice of your rights within five days of their first contact.

Debt collectors cannot contact you if you ask them in writing or inform them that you refuse to pay. If you really do owe the debt and have no defense, asking them to stop contacting you might result in them filing a lawsuit to collect the debt and/or reporting the debt to the credit bureaus if they had not already done so.

You can ask the debt collector for more information about a particular debt. We suggest that you send a certified letter, or fax the request so you have proof of receipt.

Time and Place of Collection Calls

A debt collector cannot contact you at inconvenient times or inconvenient places. The law presumes that calls between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. local time are convenient. (You need to inform them if you want them to call at other times, or communicate only in writing).

Debt collectors cannot contact you at work if they should know that your employer does not permit it. If you are not allowed to take calls at work, or if you do not want them to contact you at work, tell them not to call you at your work number.

A debt collector may also not make robocalls without consent.

Harassing or Misleading Conduct

Debt collectors cannot:

  • Make false, deceptive or misleading statements
  • Contact you without identifying himself or herself
  • Place repetitive and harassing phone calls
  • Threaten you with violence or harm to your person, reputation or property
  • Threaten to tell other people (your employer, neighbors, credit references or friends) that you owe a debt
  • Use foul or abusive language or call you names
  • Accept a postdated check and cash it prior to its date

Common misrepresentations made by debt collectors include:

  • Inflating the amount of the debt
  • Stating that you must make immediate payment to avoid being sued
  • Using false names or pretending to be an attorney, police officer, investigator or similar official
  • Threatening you with false claims of arrest, imprisonment or prosecution for a crime

What Should I Do if I Am the Victim of Debt Collection Abuse?

  • Save copies of all letters to and from the debt collector
  • Take notes about each incident, including the date, time and name of the collector
  • If they have not identified themselves, write down their phone number
  • Save any abusive messages left on your answering machine or voicemail (Illinois does not permit you to tape calls unless you inform the other party.)

If you are the victim of one of the above practices, contact an Illinois debt collector abuse lawyer at Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC, for a free consultation. Call us at 312-739-4200.

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The consumer protection and class action lawyers of Edelman, Combs, Latturner & Goodwin, LLC, represent clients throughout Illinois, and in federal courts in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan, and will consider substantial cases in other jurisdictions.