The Illinois Collectors Association (ICA), representing debt collection in the state, shares Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s concerns related to arrest warrants but disagrees with comparisons to the return of ‘debtor prisons’ as alleged in recent media coverage.
[Editor's Note: In addition to her public statements, Madigan recently moved to shut down a debt collection agency in her state.]
Following is a statement from Eric Mock, president of ICA.
“To claim that third-party debt collectors are manipulating our judiciary system for their exclusive benefit is simply wrong and runs counter to judicial independence in the State of Illinois.
We don’t find it ‘disingenuous’ to assert that ICA members are following Illinois law and do not advocate for, nor can they cause, a consumer to be arrested or jailed for an outstanding debt. Like any other civil court case, only a judge, at his or her sole discretion, can issue an arrest warrant that calls for jail time; and only when a consumer has been ruled to be in contempt of court for failing to respond to a court order.
Similarly, despite being a right of the creditor to ask, the decision whether to connect bail to repayment of a debt is also the sole decision of a judge.
The work of Illinois-based debt collectors is of vital importance to Illinois economy including the recovery of $2.7 billion in unpaid debt to businesses, government and non-profits. Its impact is also felt as the provider of more than 8,000 jobs; as a taxpayer contributing our fair share to the Illinois and national economies; and through more than $2 million and 29,000 hours assisting charitable organizations in our communities.
ICA members are hired to assist in the collection of unpaid accounts from consumers that have acquired, but not paid for, goods and services. Typically, lawsuits by debt collectors against consumers are an action of last resort. If, after several attempts to communicate, the collection efforts fail through the inability to reach a consumer or lack of cooperation, the owner of the account may seek a court’s help to adjudicate disputes, determine the proper amount owed and enforce payment.
We’ve contacted Attorney General Madigan and look forward to working with her office, the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, the Illinois judicial system and consumers to identify practical solutions for improving communication so that disputes can be resolved without the need of judicial action.”
For more information about debt collection and consumer rights, please visit www.askdoctordebt.org.
The Illinois Collectors Association is a State Unit of ACA International, the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. ACA is the comprehensive, knowledge-based resource for success in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together more than 5,000 members in the United States and abroad, and their employees, including third-party collection agencies, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendor affiliates. ACA establishes a wide variety of products, services and publications.