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How to Settle a Debt in Illinois

Sarah Edwards | January 24, 2023

How it feels to settle a debt in Illinois ^^

Summary: When you stop making payments on an obligation in Illinois, your creditor may take legal action. However, it is possible to settle your debt before going to court. Just make sure to file a response to your lawsuit, send a settlement offer to kick off negotiations, and get the settlement agreement in writing. SoloSettle can help with all these steps and more.

Most of us have debt. Credit cards, medical bills, and mortgages are a part of life that we accept. Sometimes, debt can spiral out of control. You may be unable to meet your obligations after losing your job or an unexpected event.

When you stop making payments, your creditor will start contacting you. You can expect lots of calls, letters, and emails. If their efforts don’t work, they’ll turn over your account to a collection agency or take legal action against you.

If you’re the subject of a debt lawsuit, you’re likely wondering how to avoid a judgment. Paying the debt in full will stop any legal action against you. However, you can attempt to settle the debt for a percentage of what you owe if you can’t afford to repay in full.

Settling a debt involves paying a lump sum in exchange for dismissing the lawsuit and other collection activities. In this article, we’ll explain how you can settle a debt in Illinois.

Follow these 3 steps to settle a debt in Illinois

Debt settlement requires you to take three simple steps.

  1. Respond to the debt lawsuit with an Answer.
  2. Make an offer to start the settlement negotiation process.
  3. Get the settlement agreement in writing.

Keep reading to learn about each of these steps in detail. Otherwise, watch this video:

1. Respond to the debt lawsuit with an Answer

A debt lawsuit begins when a creditor or debt collector files a Summons and Complaint in court, explaining the reasons for the case, such as failing to repay an obligation. The Complaint will also list all the specific allegations against you, including the amount you owe and any interest or penalties.

In Illinois, you have 30 days to respond to a debt lawsuit with an Appearance and Answer. These are legal documents that show the court you intend to fight back, giving you the opportunity to respond to each claim and list your defenses.

Common defenses used in debt collection cases include insufficient validation of the debt, lack of business relationship between you and the plaintiff, or an expired statute of limitations.

If you don’t respond within the deadline, you will probably lose the case automatically when the court orders a default judgment against you. With a default judgment, creditors and debt collectors can garnish your wages and even seize your property.

So, even if you plan to settle the case, you’ll still want to file an Answer. It gives you time to work out a debt settlement plan and prevents a default judgment if your efforts to settle the claim don’t work out.

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2. Make an offer to start the negotiation process

Next, you should decide how much you can afford to offer in settlement. We recommend offering at least 60% of the total value of your debt. That amount is enough to show you’re serious about the settlement process. Creditors and collectors will weigh the offer and decide whether it’s worth settling.

If you cannot come up with 60% of your debt’s total value, consider some alternative methods of obtaining money. You could sell things you don’t need in your house, take on odd jobs, or ask friends and family for a loan.

People with extenuating financial circumstances should share their situation with their creditors. If the creditor understands the problem, they may be more lenient and accept a smaller offer.

Don’t be surprised if you go through several rounds of negotiation before arriving at a deal. Your creditor or debt collector may counter your offer with one they feel is more appropriate.

Make sure not to accept an offer you know you can’t afford. If you fail to make your repayment, the creditor will proceed with the lawsuit, and they’ll likely win their judgment.

SoloSettle negotiates your debt settlement for you.

3. Get the settlement agreement in writing

Before sending any money, get the terms of the agreement in writing. A written contract ensures you and your debt collector fully understand the payment terms. That way, there is no misunderstanding, and the conditions are clear.

Your settlement agreement should include the amount you’ll repay, when it’s due, and how you’ll send it to the creditor.

It should also indicate that the creditor waives the right to the remaining balance once they receive your payment. They won’t be able to take any further legal action, and they must report your account settled to the credit reporting bureaus.

You can prepare a settlement agreement ahead of time to expedite the proceedings. Once you have a deal with your creditor, you’ll simply insert the applicable information and send it.

We recommend that you have a notary sign as a witness. Notarizing the agreement makes it a legal contract the creditor can’t back out of.

Here’s a debt settlement agreement example, so you know what to look for. We’ve also included a preview, attached below:

Debt Settlement Agreement example

Now that you understand the steps of the debt settlement process, consider a hypothetical example of debt settlement in Illinois.

Example: Tom receives a subpoena concerning a debt lawsuit against him from IC System. The Complaint claims that Tom owes $3,000 of unpaid debt. Unfortunately, Tom doesn’t have the money to repay IC System the entire amount before his court date. Tom decides to settle his debt with IC System. He files an Answer into the case within the Illinois deadline, which is 30 days. Next, Tom uses SoloSettle to send an offer of $1,800 for debt settlement (60% of the debt’s value). IC System counters with an offer of $2,000, which Tom accepts. IC System sends a written agreement to Tom, and both parties sign it with a notary present. SoloSettle transfers Tom’s money to IC System per the payment terms, keeping his financial information private and safe. Once IC System receives the money, they drop the lawsuit against Tom and report the account settled to the credit reporting bureaus.

Laws concerning debt collection and debt settlement in Illinois

Under the Illinois Collection Agency Act 225 ILCS 425/1, debt collectors cannot take these specific actions against consumers:

  • Threatening arrest or criminal action against a debtor when there is no basis for it
  • Harming a debtor’s reputation when such information is false
  • Publishing the consumer’s outstanding debt
  • Misrepresenting the amount the debtor owes
  • Disclosing information about a disputed debt to those with no business interest

Illinois also adheres to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). Under the FDCPA, creditors cannot take abusive actions against consumers, such as:

  • Telling a person they’ll go to jail for failing to repay a debt
  • Contacting a debtor before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Calling the debtor at work when the individual requests they not
  • Identifying themselves as someone they’re not, like a law enforcement agent

Illinois has a statute of limitations law that caps the time a creditor has to pursue collections activities against a debtor. Under 735 ILCS 5/13-206, there is a 10-year restriction for written debts, and 735 ILCS 5/13-205 limits lawsuits concerning oral obligations to five years.

Illinois also has specific rules concerning debt settlement. Under 205 ILCS 665/3, all organizations that offer debt settlement services must have a state-provided license. 205 ILCS 665/12 limits the fees that debt settlement agencies can charge to their customers — they cannot charge more than $50 for a counseling session and $50 per month for additional services.

The Debt Settlement Protection Act, 225 ILCS 429, further limits the fees that debt settlement companies can collect for their services. Under 225 ILCS 429/125, debt settlement agencies cannot charge more than 15% of the consumer’s savings for their help. For example, if you’re an Illinois consumer who enrolls with a licensed debt settlement agency and saves $500 by settling a debt, the agency can only charge you $75 (or 15% of your savings) for their assistance.

What’s the best debt settlement company?

SoloSettle, powered by SoloSuit, is not like traditional debt settlement companies. Our tech-based approach to settling debts makes the process quicker, less painful, and more efficient.

Our software sends and receives debt settlement negotiations on your behalf until a settlement agreement is reached. Then, we help manage your debt settlement agreement documentation and transfer your payments to creditors and debt collectors, helping you keep your financial information private and secure.

Here are some other why consumers prefer SoloSettle over other debt settlement companies:

  • SoloSettle can help you settle a debt of any size. Most settlement companies require you to have a debt of $15,000 or more. SoloSettle doesn’t. Whether you owe a couple hundred dollars or thousands—we’ve got you covered.
  • SoloSettle is powered by SoloSuit, which is a legitimate company with a strong reputation for helping people resolve their debts.
  • SoloSettle has legal defense built in with SoloSuit. While settling, you can use SoloSuit to block lawsuits if you need. Most debt settlement companies don’t provide legal defense; if you’re sued for a debt you are on your own.
  • SoloSettle takes an active approach to negotiating a settlement, while many debt settlement companies wait for the creditor or debt collector to initiate.

Still not convinced? Check out this review from a real SoloSettle customer:

“I'm very thankful for SoloSettle.. Having a third party negotiate the settlement was instrumental in resolving this case and saved me from two giant headaches: 1) I didn't have to deal with the plaintiff's lawyer and 2) I didn't have to go to court. I also love that the payment was processed through SoloSettle. I was nervous about sharing my personal financial data with the other side, but SoloSettle protected that for me. I hope I never get sued again, but if I do, I would use SoloSettle again in a heartbeat.

SoloSettle really saved me a ton of time and heartburn and kept me from having to be my own lawyer in court.”

Below are other trusted debt settlement companies you might consider:

  • National Debt Relief: One of the most well-known debt settlement companies in the U.S, individuals who participate in its programs can expect to save an average of 50% of the total value of their debt. To qualify, consumers must have at least $7,500 in debt. The company charges between 15 and 25% of the total value of a consumer’s debt for its services.

  • Accredited Debt Relief: Helps consumers with multiple outstanding obligations resolve their debts. Programs last two to four years and cost 15 to 25% of the debt’s total value. Individuals who qualify for the program can see a significant reduction in their obligations.

  • Century Support Services: Another debt relief company that’s popular with customers. Since 2012, the organization has helped customers resolve more than $1.7 billion in debt. Century Support Services charges clients 18% to 25%, depending on how much debt they seek to settle.

What is the best way to contact a debt collector?

If you’re ready to start the settlement process, you can contact debt collectors via email, letter, or phone call. However, be aware of the pros and cons of each of these methods of communication.

We recommend email since it’s quick and provides a written record of the conversation between you and your debt collector. You’ll be able to consider the communication before delivering your response. Mail is also a good option, but it takes much longer, and it is common for documents to be misplaced or lost in transit.

However, some people prefer to communicate over the phone. If you choose to do so, determine what you can afford and any non-negotiable terms you have ahead of your call. You should also record the conversation for additional protection.

Under 720 ILCS § 5/14-2, all parties must consent to a recording. Thus, you’ll need to ask your debt collector for their consent to record the call.

FAQs about debt settlement in Illinois

Here are a few of the most common questions that we hear about debt settlement in Illinois.

Q. What percentage of debt should you offer to settle?

You should offer your creditor what you can afford to pay in a debt settlement. However, 60% is generally enough for your creditor to consider your offer. If you can’t afford 60%, offer what you can and explain your financial circumstances to the debt collector. They may grant you some leeway if they understand your situation.

Q. How long before debt becomes uncollectible in Illinois?

Your creditor can pursue legal action against you for up to 10 years for written agreements and five years for oral contracts under Illinois law. If your debt is past the statute of limitations, debt collectors can continue to contact you, but they can’t file a lawsuit.

Q. Is it better to settle a debt or pay it off?

Fully repaying a debt is better than settling it. When you fully repay your debt, your creditors will report it as paid in full to the credit reporting bureaus. However, settling the debt can resolve the matter and help you avoid a judgment.

How to get debt relief in Illinois

SoloSuit has other guides concerning debt relief, collections, and debt settlement. Here are a few articles we have about debt in Illinois:

Debt settlement is your answer to avoiding a judgment

Facing a debt lawsuit is challenging, but debt settlement can help you through it. Follow the steps in this article, and don’t forget to get your agreement in writing!

SoloSuit has solutions that can help you with the debt settlement process.

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>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

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