Sarah Edwards | August 03, 2023
Edited by Hannah Locklear
Summary: Illinois residents are protected from harassment from debt collectors, thanks to both federal and state regulations. While a collection agency is responsible for providing a debt disclosure document, SoloSuit can help you draft a Debt Validation Letter to stop communication from collectors, stand up for our rights in court, or settle your debt to avoid going to court altogether.
Illinois residents have certain rights that protect them from harassment at the hands of debt collectors. Understanding these rights can help you push back against aggressive or unscrupulous debt collection practices. And if you’re facing repeated phone calls from a debt collector, it’s important to know how to respond and resolve your debt.
SoloSuit can help, but first, you’ll need to know more about Illinois debt collection laws.
In the state of Illinois, debt collectors are governed by two distinct laws. The first is the nationwide Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which prohibits debt collection agencies from using such practices as:
In addition, debt collectors in Illinois must also abide by the Illinois Collection Agency Act (ICAA). This act largely mirrors the stipulations of the FDCPA, though it also includes prohibitions that prevent debt collectors from:
The ICAA also requires that debt collectors disclose the details of your debt in writing within five days of initial contact, including the name of your original creditor and the amount of debt you owe.
If your original creditor differs from your current creditor, the collection agency has 30 days to disclose details regarding the original creditor.
You have 30 days from the receipt of this disclosure document to dispute the debt. After this deadline, the debt collector can assume that the debt is valid and continue its attempts to collect. In order to dispute the debt, you can send a Debt Validation Letter to force the collector to verify your debt before taking further action.
Debt collectors have a narrow window in which to collect your past debts through legal action. And this window varies by the type of debt in question. The table below outlines the statute of limitations on different types of debt in Illinois:
|Credit Card||10 years|
|Auto Loan||10 years|
|Student Loan||10 years|
|Oral Contract||5 years|
|Source: 735 ILCS 5/13-205, 5/13-206, and 5/13-218|
So, in other words, debt collectors only have ten years to sue you for debt, typically starting from the date of your last payment or action on the account.
If a collector doesn't file a suit within this timeframe, then their case will not stand in court. However, that won’t stop them from suing you, and it is your responsibility to raise the statute of limitations as a defense. The judge won’t check for you; it’s up to you.
Don’t let debt collectors talk you into making any payments until you’ve received a disclosure document. Collectors like to pressure you into making a small payment as a sign of good faith, though this will only reset the Statute of Limitations, giving the collector the right to file a debt lawsuit for another 5, 10, or even 20 years.
Because debt collectors are regulated by both federal and state laws, you can report violators to the appropriate agency. Here’s how.
If you believe that the debt collector has violated the terms of the FDCPA, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You can use the FTC website or call the agency directly at 877-382-4357.
Illinois residents may also file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The website also lets you check the licensing status of your debt collector to ensure that the phone calls are legitimate.
You’ve just been contacted by a debt collector. What’s your next step?
Well, it depends on what stage of the debt collection process you find yourself in. Here’s how to respond to debt collectors at all phases of the collection process.
The most important thing to do is validate your debt. The ICAA requires that collection agencies disclose the details of your debt, but you can also get the ball rolling by sending a Debt Validation Letter to confirm that the debt is yours and that it falls within the Illinois Statute of Limitations.
If you still have questions about validating your debt, check out this Q&A on Debt Validation Letters.
The ICAA also requires that debt collectors abide by Cease and Desist Letters. These letters are official requests to cease further contact.
Sending a Cease and Desist Letter should make the phone calls stop. If they don’t, you can report violators to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. But if you lose track of your debt, you expose yourself to the possibility of a debt collection lawsuit.
By the time you decide to take action, you may already have a lawsuit on your hands. Luckily, SoloSuit can help you respond to a debt lawsuit in Illinois, stand up for your rights, and increase your chances of winning the case.
To respond to your debt lawsuit, you must file a written Answer into the case and send a copy to the opposing attorney. In your Answer, you will respond to each claim against you and assert your affirmative defenses (i.e. the statute of limitations is expired).
SoloSuit’s software can help you draft and file a personalized Answer in a matter of minutes.
Save yourself additional hassle and embarrassment by settling your debt. Most debt collectors earn a living by purchasing old debts from existing creditors, such as credit card companies and banking institutions. They may be just as eager as you are to settle the debt — even if it’s for a lower amount.
Let’s look at an example of debt settlement in Illinois.
Example: Initially, Kalyn had been ignoring the repeated phone calls. But eventually, the collection agency caught up with her. The collector promptly sent her a disclosure statement. Sure enough, Kalyn had racked up a credit card bill that had never been paid. After searching for advice on how to respond to debt collectors in Illinois, she discovered SoloSuit. She used SoloSettle to negotiate a settlement payment of 60% of her original debt. Now that the phone calls have stopped, Kalyn is looking forward to improving her credit score and accomplishing her financial goals.
To learn more about how to settle your debt in Illinois, check out this video:
SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.
You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.
SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.
Here's a list of guides for other states.
Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now are are just look for support, we're here for you.
Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.
Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.
Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.
"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather