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Illinois Law Protects Commercial Loan LendersWhen creating a loan agreement in Illinois, there is a big difference between personal loans and commercial loans. Individuals or spouses take out personal loans in order to pay for family or household expenses – the most common example being home mortgages. Commercial loans are credit agreements made with business owners for the purpose of starting or expanding a business. In Illinois, commercial loans are more favorable to lenders than personal loans because of the Illinois Credit Agreements Act. Thus, making sure to classify a loan as a credit agreement could save you from a lengthy legal battle.

Commercial Loan Rules

The Illinois Credit Agreements Act states that a credit agreement or any revisions to an agreement is valid only if the agreement is in writing and signed by both parties. The law defines credit agreements as not including credit cards or loans for personal, household, or family purposes. The lender and the commercial debtor cannot create an agreement by:

  • Discussing changes to an existing agreement;
  • Reaching an oral agreement; or
  • Sending a letter or email with the terms of the oral agreement.

Debtors try to use oral agreements to defend themselves against lenders who are attempting to collect on a loan or to file a claim against a lender that they accuse of violating their agreement. With credit agreements in Illinois, commercial debtors have no claim or defense based on oral agreements.

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Illinois Reducing Interest Rate, Revival Deadline on Consumer Debt JudgmentsIllinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign a bill that will change the rules for collecting consumer debt after a debt judgment. The bill, which has passed both the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives, would reduce the interest rate charged to outstanding consumer debts. More significantly, the bill would cut by 10 years the amount of time that a creditor has to revive a judgment that has become dormant. Sponsors of the law tout it as a way to protect low-income Illinois consumers from cumbersome debts. Creditors of Illinois debtors may need to work faster to collect on court-ordered debt judgments.

Qualifications

There are two important caveats of the law as it applies to debtors. The changes affect debt judgments only if:

  • They involve consumer debts; and
  • The debt is $25,000 or less.

Consumer debts are debts accrued by individuals for personal, family, and household expenses. Nonconsumer debts are debts from an organization or business or debts that an individual accrues for purposes other than their personal expenses.

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Filing a Probate Claim on a Debtor's EstateThe debt that someone owes you does not disappear when he or she dies. Instead, you can turn your collection efforts towards the deceased debtor’s estate. Creditors have a deadline to file a claim against a debtor’s estate and collect compensation from the estate before the debtor’s beneficiaries inherit the assets. You may lose your ability to collect your debt if you miss the deadline. You must know who you may contact about the debts, who can be liable for the remaining debts, and how quickly you will need to file a probate claim.

Contact

The representative of the debtor’s estate handles all contact with creditors about claims on the estate. Once you know who the representative is, you are not allowed to contact the debtor’s family members. In many cases, the representative will notify you of your debtor’s passing and your right to file a probate claim against the estate. The representative could also send you a letter to cease contact because there are no assets in debtor’s estate to repay you. After receiving this letter, you are not allowed to contact the representative unless you are filing a lawsuit to dispute the claim of no assets.

Liable Parties

In most situations, personal debt does not transfer to another person when the debtor dies. However, there are exceptions that make family members liable for the debts, including:

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Technicalities Do Not Quash Garnishment in Debt Collection CaseObtaining a judgment order against a debtor gives you the authority to enforce your debt collection. However, your debtor may continue to fight your collection efforts, based on legal technicalities and new claims. Thus, the legal battle against your debtor is not finished until you have received the money you are owed.

Recent Case

In MI Management v. Proteus Holdings, the plaintiff is a creditor who appealed multiple Illinois circuit court decisions that:

  • Quashed garnishment orders against a debtor;
  • Vacated a third-party citation to discover the debtor’s holdings in a bank; and
  • Granted a third-party creditor’s adverse claim to the debtor’s holdings.

In 2014, the plaintiff received a favorable judgment against two individual debtors and their company for breach of a $1.25 million promissory note. The plaintiff issued wage and non-wage garnishment summons against the debtors, who did not respond or appear in court. The court granted conditional garnishment judgment orders, which were later confirmed after the debtors continued to not respond. The plaintiff issued citations to discover assets to the debtors and their bank.

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Illinois Enacting New Rules for Credit Card Companies, Debt BuyersThe Illinois Supreme Court has adopted new rules regarding procedures for credit card companies and debt buyers who file lawsuits against debtors. The rules will go into effect on Oct. 1 and will apply to both new cases and active cases that have not reached a judgment. The new rules do not apply to an original creditor that is not a credit card company. The rules create new requirements that are meant to force creditors to be more timely and thorough in filing specified motions in court. There are three notable rule changes:

  1. New Affidavit Requirements: A credit card company or debt buyer must use a new affidavit form when filing a complaint against a debtor. A statement must accompany the affidavit that says that the complaint was filed within the statute of limitations. Applicable creditors can modify their existing affidavit to comply with the new rule, as long as it includes the debt contract, relevant information on both parties, and a history of the debt.
  2. Same-Day Motions: Credit card companies and debt buyers will need to give prior notice before requesting a continuance or voluntary dismissal of a trial. This means that the court will no longer accept a plaintiff’s written or oral request to end or continue a trial if it is made on the day of the trial. Courts may require that applicable creditors file a motion to dismiss a trial at least five business days before the trial. As for a continuance, the court may accept a same-day request if both parties agree to it and the continuance would serve the interest of justice.
  3. Identity Theft Rules: A defendant may claim that he or she is not liable for a debt because he or she was the victim of identity theft. A new rule requires a debtor to file an identity theft affidavit. Once the affidavit is filed, the creditor will have 90 days to either dismiss the lawsuit or contest the affidavit. To contest the identity theft claim, the creditor must submit its own affidavit that gives factual evidence as to why the identity theft claim is false.

Effect on Creditors

The new rules largely favor debtors because they require creditors to make quicker decisions on how to proceed during their cases. Failing to comply with the rules could delay a judgment or lead to a dismissal. A Chicago creditor’s rights attorney at Walinski & Associates, P.C., can help you remain in compliance with court rules and obtain the judgment you need in your case. Schedule a consultation by calling 312-704-0771.

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Illinois Creditors Bar Association Chicago Bar Association Illinois State Bar Association
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