Editor's Note: Illinois Law Now is an ongoing series of short answers to common legal questions distributed monthly by the Illinois State Bar Association and Illinois Press Association.
Question: Even though I signed up on the federal government's do-not-call registry, I still get several robocalls. Do I have any recourse?
Answer: Unfortunately, placing your phone number in the do-not-call registry will not stop all telemarketing calls. Also, be aware that political solicitations and calls from charities are not covered by the registry. However, if a third-party telemarketer calls on behalf of a charity, you may ask not to receive any more calls from that specific charity.
Complaints to the government on unsolicited phone calls are up significantly since the do-not-call registry was established. The best thing to do is either hang up or not return the call. Another option is to contact your phone provider and ask them to block the number, but be sure to ask if there’s a charge for that service. You may also want to report the incidents to the Federal Trade Commission and the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
Question: As the owner of a small company, can I deny employment based on criminal convictions?
Answer: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission advises businesses to assess a job candidate with a criminal history on the severity of his/her crime, and to give job applicants a chance to explain their background, taking into consideration references and rehabilitative efforts. They also suggest documenting in writing the justification for employment decisions made for those with criminal histories.
Question: What Illinois laws govern the hunting of various types of game?
Answer: Illinois law allows hunting of various types of game, including deer, turkey, and small game such as squirrels. Waterfowl and doves are also considered fair game. All hunting in Illinois is subject to seasonal restrictions and specifications. Also, the proper Illinois hunting license must be obtained prior to any hunting activity. An applicant must have resided in the state for 30 days prior to submitting an application. Hunters born after January 1, 1980, must have completed the Hunter Education Course as provided by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Question: How can I be sure that I am complying with all the driving laws with regards to texting and phoning?
Answer: In Illinois, there are numerous laws that restrict the use of cell phones while driving. Recently, the Governor signed three new laws that prohibit specific types of phone use while driving. One law bans most hand-held phone use within 500 feet of emergency scenes. Two other acts, which will go into effect January 1, 2013, contain similar bans on all roads for commercial drivers and for all drivers in construction and maintenance speed zones. Information about traffic laws can be found at www.cyberdriveillinois.com.
Question: Is there a law which requires the purchaser of a home to do a radon test?
Answer: No, but many home buyers are concerned and now have a radon test conducted at the same time they do their home inspection. If the radon test exceeds normal levels, the buyer will usually require that radon remediation be done and that a second test be conducted before the closing.
Question: I have a serious issue with my latest credit report and am afraid that unless it is resolved, I will be denied credit altogether or be forced to pay higher interest rates. What are my options?
Answer: It’s good that you are aware of your credit history. Approximately 96 percent of free reports are unclaimed, according to some sources. If you disagree with some of the information it contains, you should request a correction in writing. If that action is unsuccessful, you may want to hire an attorney. A letter from an attorney can often get results.
Question: My grandchild is a huge fan of a certain pop star and has registered on his website. How can people be sure that the information those sites collect doesn’t violate the children’s privacy rule?
Answer: The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act requires operators of these sites to alert parents and obtain their consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information about children under age 13.
Question: May I deny visitation rights to my ex because he stopped paying child support?
Answer: The non-payment of child support cannot be a factor in allowing or denying visitation. However, the failure to comply with a visitation court order is a criminal action and could subject the offending parent to a fine and possible jail time. Any parent who violates the child visitation agreement without cause, or falls behind inexplicably on payment of child support, could be held in contempt of court. Your best bet is to consult with an attorney.
Question: What is an employer’s responsibility with regards to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act?
Answer: Among an employer’s responsibilities, he or she must obtain compensation insurance, post a notice in each workplace that lists the insurance carrier and explains workers’ rights, keep records of work-related injuries, and report to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission any accidents involving more than three lost workdays.
Employers may not harass, discharge or refuse to rehire an employee for exercising his/her rights under the law. Finally, an employer may not charge the employee for workers’ compensation insurance premiums that the employer is required to pay. More information about workers’ compensation laws is available at http://www.iwcc.il.gov/
Question: I got behind in paying my debts, and now I’m being hounded by an aggressive, abusive debt collector. What are my rights?
Answer: For the fourth consecutive year, consumer debt complaints in 2011 ranked No. 1 on the Illinois Attorney General’s annual top 10 list of complaints. Of the nearly 5,900 debt-related complaints, more than 1,100 were made against debt collectors who illegally threatened and harassed consumers. Consumers may be struggling to repay their debt, but they also have a right to be protected against harassment.
It is illegal for a debt collector to front as a law firm and intimidate consumers with fake court case numbers. The debt collector may not reveal information about debts to people other than the consumer, nor can he/she debit more money from a consumer’s bank account than the consumer authorized. It is also unlawful for a collector to access a consumer’s credit report without authorization, as a way to coerce them to pay alleged debts.
Question: With the holidays right around the corner, I’m thinking of buying some gifts at one of the online auction websites. What should I know?
Answer: While many online auction sites offer excellent deals, they are ripe for scams. Even if an auction site is legitimate, a seller on the site could take your money and never deliver the goods. Before making any purchases, visit the sites and familiarize yourself with how they operate. Talk to friends about the experiences they've had with different online auction houses.
Generally, the person who placed the highest bid for an item will be contacted by the seller to arrange payment and delivery. Most legitimate sellers will accept credit cards or use a third-party escrow agent for payment. Be cautious if a seller asks you to pay by check, money order or cash. If you become a victim of fraud, it will be extremely difficult to get your money back.
For more information about Illinois law, visit www.illinoislawyerfinder.com. If you have a legal question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.