What Activities are Prohibited by the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act?
Sue Cornelius: A Consumer Fraud Claim
Sue runs a very successful online retail business selling hand-crafted soaps, candles, and other items. She filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to strip the second mortgage from her home and to cram down the loan on her 3 year old car. Shortly after she filed her case, Sue received a letter from a debt collection agency hired by her auto loan lender. The letter informed her that due to her bankruptcy filing, she was in breach of her loan agreement and the car would be repossessed unless she paid the loan balance in full within 30 days.
This behavior clearly violates the automatic stay, which went into effect when Sue filed her bankruptcy case. It also violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The debt collector is impermissibly contacting her, is making false representations, and is engaged in an unfair practice (violating the automatic stay). This behavior also violates ICFA because the debt collector is misrepresenting a material fact (that she is in breach of her loan agreement) in the hopes that she will rely on the statement and pay the money. Sue contacts her attorney, and ultimately files an adversary proceeding in the Bankruptcy Court based on the debt collector's conduct. Sue can attempt to recover damages for each statutory violation.