People who file for bankruptcy in Illinois and around the country do not have to worry about creditor harassment because court orders that prohibit such activities are issued when Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy petitions are filed. Consumers who do not want to file for bankruptcy cannot obtain these court orders, but that does not mean there is nothing they can do to stop abusive, threatening or demeaning treatment from debt collectors.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is a federal consumer law that was passed in 1977, allows creditors or organizations that purchase delinquent debt to contact borrowers who have fallen behind in their payments, but they are only permitted to contact consumers by phone during business hours and may not use coercive or threatening tactics. Debt collectors are also prohibited from contacting a borrower’s family members, friends or workmates. The Illinois Collection Agency Act adds additional consumer protections like a ban on sending debt collection correspondence on postcards or in envelopes bearing information about the purpose of the mail.
Both the federal and Illinois laws require debt collectors to cease contact when asked to do so in writing. It is a good idea to send these requests by registered mail, and they are usually acted on promptly because the FDCPA is what is known as a strict liability law. This means that a borrower can be awarded compensation even if they did not suffer any harm. All they have to do to prevail in court is establish that the debt collector violated the law in some way.
The law backs consumers
Many people think the system is skewed against ordinary people in favor of businesses, but that is not the case with the laws dealing with unpaid debts. In addition to having a much easier path through the courts if they decide to take legal action over FDCPA violations, Illinois residents who have been harassed by debt collectors can file complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.