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When a business or individual owes you money, it can be difficult to collect. It can be awkward and frustrating, and sometimes you’re too busy to constantly follow up on past-due payments. Here are a few tips on collecting a debt in Illinois.


  1. If you haven’t already done so, make several attempts to collect your money. It might not work, but it’s worth a try. Put your requests in writing, and include a clear deadline for payment. When it becomes clear that you need to do more, call in help.
  2. Contact an attorney who knows what they’re doing to help you demand payment. A letter on your attorney’s letterhead can be just the thing to get the bills paid. Usually a demand letter also includes a consequence for not paying by a certain date – legal action.
  3. Your attorney can file a lawsuit as soon as you wish in most cases. In fact, if you’ve tried to collect the debt and failed, you might want your attorney to skip right to this step.  Many of the lawyers we recommend will work on a contingency basis which means that they only get paid if they actually make a recovery.
  4. If the debtor doesn’t respond to the lawsuit, you win automatically. They only have a certain amount of time to respond and a chronic debtor might let the deadline come and go. This means that you will get a judgment in your favor. You win. The court says that the other side must pay.
  5. However, the existence of a judgment doesn’t mean a check will come in the mail. You might have to force payment. The judgment allows you to pursue wage garnishment, for example. An experienced debt collection attorney can help you determine whether the debtor is hiding assets to avoid paying, which is sometimes the case.


If it’s gotten to the point where you don’t know what else to do, it might be time to seek the help of a debt collection attorney who knows how to quickly and effectively collect what you’re owed. If you’re a business owner, unpaid invoices can put your business at risk. Contact us if you have questions.

Written by Michael Helfand