News & Resources

Technical glitches lead to collection confusion

Feb 17, 2012 Mike Garretson

A switch by Winnebago County, Illinois, to a new digital court case management system has created some unwanted confusion for collection agencies when finding debtors, the Rockford Register Star reports. The county officially switched to a $6.9 million digital system in November 2010, replacing an older model from 1999. During the changeover, 1.8 million cases needed to be transferred and some items got mixed up along the way. For example, Joe Fertitta of Machesney Park received a letter from recently hired collection agency Harris & Harris, stating he owed more than $2,000 for four traffic violations that took place back in 2001 and 2002. Harris & Harris was hired by the county in October, and has reclaimed nearly $300,000 in unpaid court fines over the past two months. The firm predicts it will obtain $7.7 million in fines by the end of 2012, and $14.4 million by the end of 2014. It's not all bad, however. A recent study from ACA International and global advisory firm Ernst and Young found that third-party collection agencies directly employed more than 8,000 people with a payroll of $257 million in Illinois in 2010.