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Yesterday, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations issued written guidance to debt collectors and debt buyers regarding the COVID-19 crisis.
The guidance states that debt collection agencies and debt buyers are not listed as essential businesses under the governor's executive order that requires all non-essential businesses to cease all activity within the state, except for identified minimum basic operations. However, the guidance states that non-essential businesses are allowed to continue operating remotely.
The Department, however, does not show leniency on providing the residential address of collectors as a place the debt collector conducts business. This is different from states like Connecticut, which eased the branch licensing requirements for collectors to work from home. The Department thus states that collectors who will work from a location other than the registered office should notify the department within 14 days of such information.
The guidance also advises debt collectors and debt buyers to take steps to help consumers:
The Department encourages debt collection agencies and debt buyers to work with consumers to modify payment schedules or suspend all collection activity for a period of no less than 60 days.
The Department also provides an ominous reminder to debt collectors that the FDCPA and the state's Collection Agency Act:
[P]rohibit communications at times and places that should be known to be inconvenient to the debtor. In light of the economic stress caused by the COVID-19 crisis, the Department will closely monitor adherence to these provisions.