CAIRO, Ill. (AP) — The state’s attorney’s office in Alexander County has joined a growing number of prosecutors’ offices in Illinois who have turned to a private company to collect delinquent court fines and fees.
The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan reports that the Taylorville-based Credit Collection Partners has told the county it could be owed about $2 million in unpaid fines and fees that date back decades. The same company has since 2013 taken on debt collection services for more than 40 Illinois counties, including Alexander, Perry, Johnson, Saline, Franklin, White, Gallatin, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash, Hamilton and Marion counties.
Company representatives defend the practice, and the 30 percent fee they charge as allowed under Illinois law, saying they are helping counties collect money owed to the taxpayer from people who have refused to pay legitimate fines and fees assessed by the court for their offenses, be they traffic, misdemeanors or felonies.
Some complain that hiring private companies to collect old fines is unfair to people who may have already paid years ago but are unable to prove it because they no longer have receipts. But the company says the practice of hiring private collection agencies is allowed under Illinois law.