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Collection Proceedings During the Time of COVID-19

May 29, 2020

By: Neal Kitterlin

Whether you have a money judgment that was entered against you, or you are attempting to enforce a money judgment against someone else, the restrictions put in place in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted some of the procedures typically used to collect such a judgment. 

Some of the most common methods of collection, a citation to discover assets and a non-wage garnishment, by which the creditor is able to discover and place a lien on assets (not wages) owned by the debtor, such as bank accounts and other personal property, are particularly affected.  Typically, such a citation or garnishment, when served on a bank, “freezes” the account, such that the debtor no longer has access to the funds until the matter is resolved in court. 

While debtors have the ability to exercise a statutory personal property exemption to such collection, in an amount up to $4,000, this exemption has not been applied automatically.  Instead, a debtor would have to show up in court on the return date of the citation and elect to apply the exemption.  With court appearances now limited, however, the Illinois Supreme Court has issued an order requiring the exemption to be applied automatically without the need for a court appearance.  This makes it easier for debtors to retain access to funds in the face of collection proceedings, and more difficult for creditors to quickly collect all or part of amounts owed to them.

Another change put in place for the duration of the disaster declaration is the suspension of service of all citation and garnishment proceedings to a consumer debtor.  In other words, if you owe a debt based on a consumer contract, such as credit card debt or debt for an installment purchase, along with many others (consumer is typically defined in Illinois law as “for personal, family, or household use”), you may not be served with a citation or garnishment at this time.  Notably, the debt itself is not erased or impacted, nor does interest stop accruing, but new collection actions will not be served during this time.

Experienced collection attorneys are available to talk to you at CTM Legal Group if you are either a debtor or creditor who believes you are impacted by these changes. Call us today at 312-818-6700.