College of Law > Academics > Experiential Learning > Legal Clinics > Croak Community Legal Clinic > Student Legal Resources > Resources > Online Self-Help Center > Consumer Law Resources
Some examples of fraud include:
Within the City of Chicago, consumer fraud may be reported to the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection through its website (https://www.cityofchicago.org/bacp), or by dialing 3-1-1.
11 E. Adams, Ste. 500, Chicago, IL 60603
Contact: Marilyn Smith
Chicago Legal Clinic (CLC)
Tel. (773) 731-1762
llinois Legal Aid Online
17 N. State St, Ste. 1590
Chicago, IL 60602
Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (LAFMC)
111 W. Jackson Blvd, Third floor
Chicago, IL 60604
Contact: Sheldon H. Roodham, Executive Director
Personal data has become a hot commodity among bad actors. Thieves can use information such as you social security number, date of birth, drivers' license number, and other personal identifiers to open credit cards in your name, change addresses for your accounts, redirect payments, redirect bills, and more. Such malicious activity can have serious negative effects on your credit.
If you are worried your personal information may have been stolen:
Keep a close eye on your checking account, credit card statements, and your credit report, and promptly note any irregularities.
Immediately call the companies where fraudulent transactions have taken place and ask them to close or freeze your accounts.
Change any logins, passwords, or PINs for accounts that have been affected.
If a credit card has been used to facilitate fraud, contact one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, & Equifax) to place a fraud alert on your credit report. The other two bureaus will automatically place an alert once one of them is notified. A fraud alert will stop anyone from opening a credit card in your name. More info here.
Report the fraud to the FTC (online or phone (877) 438-4338) and local law enforcement (Illinois Attorney General online or phone (866) 999-5630).
Use the resources provided by the FTC to create and implement a recovery plan.
Source: Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Avoiding Scams 101
Obtain your credit score for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. You are entitled to receive one free report from each of the three main credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, & Equifax) every 12 months.
Please visit the univerity's Financial Fitness website for helpful information about establishing Good Credit, as well as advice on choosing the right credit card.
Nerdwallet is an app that can assist you with finding credit cards that fit your needs, and better understanding your credit score. This service also helps locate savings accounts with the best interest rates and tracks your spending to keep you on budget.
Bankruptcy is a process that helps debtors who are unable to pay their creditors legally discharge their debts. There are two main types of bankruptcy:
Chapter 13, which allows the debtor to propose a plan to repay his/her debts .
An individual is only eligible to file for bankruptcy once every 8 years.
If you have no income, take home less than $371.25 a week, or if your income is contingent upon public benefits like Social Security or child support, and you do not own a home, car, or expensive personal property, you may be considered "judgment proof."
This means that bill collectors and creditors cannot legally force you to pay anything. The debts still exist. But, if you can slowly but surely pay your debts and get back on your feet, you may be able to avoid filing bankruptcy. More information about being judgement proof is available here.
If you believe that you are judgement proof, inform bill collectors and seek relief by using forms available through Illinois Legal Aid Online.
Before filing for bankruptcy, you should make certain that it is the best option for you. Visit Debt.org for more information about what bankruptcy is, whether it is the right choice, whether your debts will be eligible to be discharged, and what the consequences of bankruptcy may be in your specific situation. Carefully weigh the pros and cons - while filing for bankruptcy will cause immediate harm to your credit score, it may be the best decision for an individual's credit in the long term. More factors to consider when making this important decision is available here.
Once a petition for bankruptcy has been filed, relief for the debtor is almost immediate. All creditors must stop trying to seize the debtor's property, lawsuits freeze, and all of the debtor's property and assets becomes part of the bankruptcy estate. Such property cannot be sold or transferred. Creditors can no longer seize or control anything that the debtor owns. Utilities must be restored, and a debtor's driver's license can be reinstated, if it had been suspended for not paying a debt.
Before you file for bankruptcy, you must complete credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency - Locations found here
Next, you must compile all your debts, assets, income, and expenses in an itemized list. This should include copies of all of your recent bills, your credit report with a list of creditors, your most recent tax return, pay stubs for at least the last 60 days, and recent bank statements.
Finally, you must file the necessary legal documents with the court and pay the filing fee, currently $335 for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy & $310 for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, which can be paid in installments or waived if you qualify.
A Bankruptcy Help Desk is available at the Daley Center (Room 1401), and can provide free, expert assistance with filing bankruptcy in Cook County. Check out this list of additional free resources for filing help - Free Resources for Debt Collection.doc