News & Resources

Illinois AG fights to keep debtors out of prison

Dec 12, 2011 Mike Garretson

Currently, six U.S. states allow debt collectors to seek arrest warrants for defaulters if all other collection methods have failed, insideArm reports. Those states are Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Washington. However, Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan is fighting to limit or abolish judges' arrest warrant requests, as the practice is currently "flourishing" in the state. "We can no longer allow debt collectors to pervert the courts," said Madigan, as quoted by the news source. Although nationwide statistics for the number of issued warrants are unavailable, the news source cites a Wall Street Journal statistic that found more than 5,000 were signed off on by U.S. judges across nine counties in 2010 alone. While it may be assumed that debtors could receive help from collections agencies to pay off bills - such as extensions or payment plans - Madigan is concerned that some borrowers are being placed in jail without knowledge that they were even sued due to false or sloppy paperwork. Mark Schiffman, spokesman for the Association of Credit and Collections International, countered that debt collections agencies "aren't advocating for debtors' arrests" and use the threat of jail as a last resort.