District collection agency in hot seat
November 15, 2012
MUSKOKA - A collection agency used by the District of Muskoka was the subject of a damning report by the CBC last week.
The agency, iQor Canada, the Canadian arm of a New York based company, has seen hundreds of complaints to provincial consumer affairs agencies and the RCMP Anti-Fraud Squad.
The complainants have said the agency continually harasses people, many of whom don’t even owe any money to anyone. A former employee of the agency told the CBC that people would pay for debts they didn’t owe to get the agency to stop harassing them.
District chief financial officer Stephen Cairns confirmed that iQor is used primarily for unpaid Provincial Offences Act (POA) fines. The district is owed close to $8-million in unpaid fines.
Despite charges against the agency, Cairns said he does not think they are harassing people on the district’s behalf.
“Given the legal nature of the charge / fines the documentation is generally at a higher standard than a general trade receivable, the agents involved in POA collection have additional training, they have a defined script they must follow when dealing with the individual, can only speak to the individual about the collection matter noted on the fine and in the case of any compliant and/or dispute the individuals are instructed to contract our offices. Also within our service contract with them they must provide an ombudsman to resolve complaints.”
Cairns said the company is also used, to a lesser degree in the collection of other receivables, but said the district has not received any complaints in at least two years.
“Based on our experience and the additional controls in place, we feel confident that we can address those concerns when, and if, they arise locally,” he said.
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