One of the most common transactions in city of Chicago and its suburbs is the billing and paying for water usage. These transactions are rarely questioned, and the bills are mostly paid on time and in full. That is, until a group of Tinley Park residents became suspicious of the amounts being charged by the municipal water authority and charged the city with consumer fraud.
In Indiana, people who are in debt will often be pursued in many ways by creditors and debt collectors. The tactics these entities use will sometimes go right up to the line of legality and propriety. Oftentimes, they go over the line and violate federal law regulating consumer rights. When unfair debt collection practices take place, it is important to understand how the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act helps consumers.
People in Illinois who are facing significant debt have enough to think about as they seek to navigate their financial struggles without receiving an endless stream of calls from debt collectors, businesses and others seeking to collect. Behaviors such as harassment are illegal under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but that does not stop these aggressive collectors and creditors from pushing the boundaries in trying to get payment. In these circumstances, legal assistance can be helpful to put a stop to it.
For Indiana residents who are dealing with debt and have fallen behind in their payments, their worries go far beyond what they owe. They extend to the constant phone calls and notices in the mail with increasingly aggressive demands for payment. To shield these debtors, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) has been in place for nearly four decades and remained essentially unchanged. Now, the Trump administration is proposing an update to the law that can affect debtors in significant ways.
When an Illinois resident is in debt and falls behind on the payments, it is to be expected that the creditors will make contact to try and collect. This can be the most overwhelming and intimidating aspects of the entire situation. However, debtors should remember their consumer rights against unfair debt collection and realize that if those rights are violated, the could have a legal claim for compensation. At the very least, they should assert federal law to protect themselves from various illegal acts on the part of creditors and debt collectors. Communication with the consumer is a key part of that.
Consumer fraud is more common than many people realize. The truth of the matter, though, is that there are a number of scams and schemes designed to defraud innocent and unsuspecting individuals of their hard-earned money. Sometimes these scams are intentionally carried out by individual bad actors, but other times, businesses engage in unfair trade practices that are meant to deceive consumers. Either way, those who have been financially harmed through these bad acts want their money back.
Illinois and Indiana consumers should be able to participate in the marketplace without fear of being taken advantage of by others. This is why the law seeks to protect these consumers from fraud. Unfortunately, though, far too many individuals are unaware of the legal protections afforded to them. As a direct result, many individuals who are victims of consumer fraud suffer severe financial losses that could otherwise be recovered through legal action. In hopes of better informing individuals of their legal rights, this week we will look at one aspect of Illinois law.
Many Illinois and Indiana residents are likely to give little, if any, thought about consumer protection. After all, most of us enter various markets with the expectation that our identities and finances will be protected from scammers, thieves and those who use deceptive trade practices and misleading advertising. Although a lot of people have become familiar with identity theft, there are many other types of consumer fraud.
Fraud can touch individuals and businesses in a wide variety of ways. The Federal Trade Commission recently released its annual report on consumer fraud, and the numbers are eye opening. The report indicates that nearly three million fraud reports were filed, with many of them falling into the fields of debt collection, identity theft and imposter scams. Although most people who reported these frauds were able to protect themselves financially, 21 percent of those reports accounted for more than $900 million in losses. Most people found themselves losing somewhere between $400 and $500 dollars.
As a consumer, you have certain legal rights. One of those rights is to be free from unfair debt collection practices. Although this may seem like a no-brainer, avoiding it in real life can be quite difficult. One reason is that there is an unfair balance of power in situations where debt is being collected. These collectors will try to use their muscle to scare you into doing things that you don't have to do. They may also illegally intimidate you to try to get you to pay up.