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Illinois Unfair or Deceptive Act or Practice Laws

Some Consumer Protection Laws in Illinois

815 Ill. Comp. Stat. 505/1 through 505/12:

Illinois Code Chapter 815, 505/1 through 505/12 is commonly known as the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (“Act”). This is a law that is meant to protect consumers from businesses that engage in unfair methods of competition and unfair acts during the conduct of commerce or trade. The Act grants the Attorney General with the right to adopt and promulgate rules and regulations that would aid in the interpretation of the law. Additionally, the Attorney General as well as any consumer who is injured by an unlawful business practice can file a lawsuit against an offending business under this law. The Act also allows for the filing of class action lawsuits.

What is prohibited?

The Act prohibits the use of unfair or deceptive acts or practices, including the use of deception, fraud, misrepresentation, and suppression of material facts. While the Act provides this general definition, it also contains a number of specific actions that are considered to be violations of the law. Some examples of unlawful business practices include, but are not limited to:

  • The usage of chain referral sales plans or pyramid schemes or employing individuals to be a part of these schemes; and
  • Attempting to collect a debt from the spouse of a debtor unless the spouse is co-signed on the agreement; and
  • Contacting a debtor’s employer in regard to a debt without prior notice or default; and
  • The failure to include the legal name of the business and its address on advertising and promotional materials; and
  • The use of terms like “bank rates” or “bank financing” when making loans to consumers if the business is not a bank, banking associations, or a trust company; and
  • Reporting harmful information about a cosigner of a debt to a consumer reporting agency or a collection agency unless they have made the required notices to the cosigner.

Who does the law apply to and how can consumers sue?

The law applies to businesses in Illinois that engage in consumer transactions. Consumers who are injured have the right to take legal action against a business that acts in violation of the Act. A private action claim under the Act should contain the following elements: 1) the deceptive act that the defendant engaged in; 2) that the defendant intended for the consumer to rely on its deception; 3) that the deception occurred during trade or commerce; and 4) the actual damages that were caused to the consumer by the defendant’s deception. In Illinois, consumers do not have to provide a business with a pre-suit notice before they file a lawsuit.

What damages are a consumer entitled to?

Under the Act, consumers may be able to recover actual and punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees and costs, and injunctive relief.

What is the statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations for claims under the Act is three years. Thus, actions have to be filed within three years after the date that the alleged wrongdoing took place.

Are there exemptions?

The Act offers exemptions to certain acts and entities. For example, the regulations of the Act do not apply to actions that are authorized by regulatory bodies of the state or the federal government. The Act also does not govern acts that are conducted by businesses like newspapers or broadcasting stations who do not have knowledge of the deceptive nature of the information that they provide.

815 Ill. Comp. Stat. 510/1 through 510/7:

Illinois Code Chapter 815, 510/1 through 510/7 is also known as the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“UDTPA”) and it is a law that protects consumers by limiting the use of deceptive trade practices in business. Under the UDTPA, the Attorney General or state attorneys can enjoin a violation and private parties can also bring suit against offending businesses.

What is prohibited?

The UDTPA provides a list of business actions that are considered to be deceptive trade practices. Among these, some unlawful actions include, but are not limited to:

  • Falsely representing that a good is in new condition when it is actually used or damaged; and
  • Falsely representing that a good or service has qualities that it does not have; and
  • Falsely representing the geographic origin of a good or service; and
  • Advertising a good or service without the intent to meet expectable public demand; and
  • Providing misleading information about the price or price reductions of a good or service; and
  • Causing a consumer to be confused about the source or sponsorship of a particular good or service.

Who does the law apply to and how can consumers sue?

The law applies to any business or individual that engages in a deceptive trade practice during commerce or trade. If a consumer is injured due to a deceptive trade practice, they can take legal action against the offending business. For claims under the UDTPA, consumers are not required to prove actual confusion or misunderstanding, monetary damage, or intent to deceive. Additionally, consumers can file a lawsuit without sending a pre-suit notice to the defendant beforehand.

What damages are consumers entitled to?

Prevailing consumers are entitled to receive injunctive relief as determined by the court. If the court finds that the defendant’s unlawful actions were willful, the consumer may also be able to recover attorney’s fees and costs.

The statute of limitations period for debt in Illinois:

In Illinois, the statute of limitations period for debt is five years for open accounts and unwritten contracts, and ten years for written contracts. Thus, collectors and creditors generally have either five years or ten years from a debt’s default to sue a consumer in order to try to collect on the obligation. That said, different types of debt have different statute of limitations periods. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for auto loan debt is four years, it is five years for credit card debt, it is ten years for medical debt, and it is ten years for mortgage debt. If a consumer promises to make a payment on an alleged debt, or makes even a small payment, it could potentially restart the clock on the statute of limitations.

Some of the places that a consumer can look to for help or answers to questions:

The laws and statutes discussed above can change. So, in the state that a consumer resides in, a consumer protection agency, the Office of the Attorney General, and/or a consumer protection attorney who is licensed in a consumer’s respective state can help a consumer in getting help, up to date information and interpretations, and/or with determining the answers to their questions in regard to the aforementioned laws. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can assist as well