Illinois Issues Guidance To Licensed Agencies

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation released guidance yesterday, advising collection agencies about what to do if they wish to have employees work from home, and encouraging collection agencies and debt buyers to suspend all collection activity for the next 60 days.

A copy of the guidance can be accessed by clicking here.

The guidance also indicated that the IDFPR would be “closely” monitoring for adherence to specific provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and Illinois’s Collection Agency Act regarding the times and places that collection agencies are contacting debtors, in light of the “economic stress” being felt by individuals as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

The IDFPR did add a couple of hoops that collection agencies need to jump through should they want to set their employees up to be eligible to work from home. Acknowledging that the Collection Agency Act did not “contemplate” a scenario where employees would conduct business at any place other than the location that is on file with the state, the IDFPR instituted a requirement that licensed agencies must provide the agency notice within 14 days of any address change.

Along with notifying agencies about how to proceed should they wish to have employees work from home, the agency also said that agencies and debt buyers should “work with consumers to modify payment schedules or suspend all collection activity for a period of no less than 60 days.”

The IDFPR also published guidance for banks and credit unions, encouraging them to offer payment accommodations — such as allowing borrowers to defer payments at no cost or extending the payment due dates.

Illinois joins Massachusetts, Nevada, and North Carolina as states that have provided specific guidance to collection agencies in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

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