Fraudulent Debt Can Break the Bank
Sara was shocked to find her wages were being garnished for a debt she did not recognize. The debt was for service at an address at which Sara had never lived, and she had the written debt to prove it.
Unbeknownst to her, a judgment had been filed against her, and it have been entered by default since she failed to appear for a court hearing she knew nothing about.
An attorney at IEJF grantee CARPLS (Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services) helped Sara pause the wage garnishment so she could contest the underlying judgment. Together, they were able to get the original debt thrown out.
Even with that victory, the creditor could have still refiled to collect the debt. As it turns out, the debt had been purchased from another creditor, and the collection agency didn’t likely have documentation that would hold up in court. The wage garnishment was stopped, and Sara was free of the debt she had falsely incurred.
There is a massive market of debt being traded from company to company. Like other secretive industries, consumers have no way of knowing they are impacted until they are faced with situations like Sara’s. Legal aid provides the support and expertise people need to fight fraud.
The IEJF was able to increase its focus on consumer issues with settlement funds awarded by Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2015. These funds will continue to support the IEJF’s grant program through 2019.
CARPLS or Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services, provides legal information, advice and brief services over a telephone hotline to low-income families and seniors in civil legal distress in Cook County. CARPLS is also a member of the IL Armed Forces Legal Aid Network which provides legal aid to veterans and active duty military across the state.