* The Tribune has a story today about municipalities hiring collection agencies to track down people with unpaid tickets and fines. It’s a cash cow for the locals, which don’t have to spend a dime to collect the fines. It makes money for the collection agencies, which keep a large chunk of what they collect. But some of these fines are ancient. For instance…
Seth Jumps, who lives in Jackson County, near Carbondale, got a call about six months ago from the same number over and over for several weeks. He finally decided to answer. The caller was a collection agent working for Jackson County.
The agency told Jumps he had two unpaid tickets: a $150 ticket from 2012 for fishing without a license, and a $125 ticket from 2002 for screeching tires. He said the agency didn’t provide him with copies of the tickets, or any other paperwork.
Jumps said he was certain he paid those tickets. He renews his fishing license each year and believes he wouldn’t be able to if he had an unpaid violation. And this was the first time in 16 years that he heard from the county about possible outstanding tickets, he said.
“It was 16 years ago. I have no track record or anything,” Jumps said. “Who’s going to keep a receipt?”
Goodman, from NIU, said someone may be tempted to pay a ticket, rather than fight it, if they don’t have records. He raised concerns about collection agencies choosing whom to pursue.
* The Question: Should the state place some sort of time limit on these private debt collections? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…
…Adding… Text from Rep. Stephanie Kifowit…
Hi Rich, I tried to address this issue last session but couldn’t get the bill called on the floor. It’s an issue because banks only keep records for 7 years so it’s impossible for a person to contest a violation from that long ago.
Her bill is here.
If you check the witness slips, the Illinois Municipal League, the City of Chicago and Cook County were opposed, which explains the brick.