Debt collector penalized for harassing customers

John O'Brien Apr. 7, 2008, 3:11pm


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum obtained a $1.3 million judgment Monday in his case against a Jacksonville debt collection agency.

Ellis Crosby & Associates will pay $388,000 in restitution, $700,000 in fines and $253,000 in fees and investigative costs. McCollum's office received more than 380 complaints that the company harassed and intimidated debtors into paying more than they owed.

"This case should put similar operations on notice that the penalties for such deceptive business practices can be very costly," McCollum said. "Florida authorities will not tolerate unscrupulous individuals who victimize our citizens in potentially difficult financial situations."

McCollum alleged violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Business Practices Act and Consumer Collections Practices Act. The suit was filed in 2005.

Duval County Circuit Court Judge L. Haldane Taylor also entered a permanent injunction that will keep the company from engaging in any activity in Florida that is related to the ownership, processing, administration or collection of consumer debts.

Some customers of Ellis Crosby & Associates claim the company had its employees pose as law enforcement officers threatening, threaten seizure of property and threaten bodily harm.

Taylor's judgment regarding damages came after a Friday hearing.

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