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Thursday December 30, 2010

Attorney General Koster today announced that the Massachusetts-based debt settlement firm Elite Financial Services, Inc., has agreed to refund all fees paid by Missouri consumers and cease operating in Missouri.

Koster said Elite Financial Services charged consumers a fee and promised to reduce their unsecured debt, such as credit card debt, but failed to do so in many instances.  He said the company has agreed to an injunction barring them from accepting any business from Missourians and to refund all fees paid by any Missouri consumers who submit complaints to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office within one year of today’s date. 

The Attorney General’s Office will send notices in the coming weeks to all consumers who signed up for so-called debt relief services with Elite Financial.  The notices will inform Missouri consumers of their right to a full refund of any and all fees paid to this company.

Any consumers who do not receive a notice but believe they are entitled to a refund from Elite Financial Services should contact the Attorney General’s Office at 800-392-8222.

“The debt settlement industry has sought to profit from the fear and stress many Missourians are experiencing in these difficult economic times.” Koster said.  “These so-called debt settlement companies prey on consumers who are desperately searching for a way to decrease their debt. These companies promise to magically reduce consumer debt by 50 percent or more, but in reality, most consumers end up worse off by following their advice.  These companies will face aggressive consumer law enforcement in Missouri.”

Koster warned consumers to be wary of claims made by these companies and never to pay upfront fees for this so-called service.

Today’s settlement was filed in Oregon County, Missouri.  Elite Financial’s conduct was brought to the attention of the Attorney General’s Office by Legal Services of Southern Missouri.