Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The City of Toronto has a new debt collecting strategy, hiring two collection agencies that specialize in tracking down debtors whose traffic fines are more than 20 years old

And the city will allow the private collectors to do something most city-hired collectors are not permitted to do: phone debtors as early as 7 a.m. and on weekends.

Now, people are receiving letters from those collection agencies demanding payment of fines that, in some cases, are more than two decades old and very difficult to fight against, according to Sean O'Connor, a director of the Ontario Paralegal Association.

That's something that Donna Rodrigues discovered: Last fall, she received a letter from a city-hired collection agency insisting that she pay a fine of $746 that was levied in 1998 for driving with a suspended licence.

Rodrigues, 64, says she went to court in 1998 and was acquitted of the charge, but she can no longer find her lawyer — and the the police officer who wrote the ticket has retired.

Why the sudden attack on debt collecting?

$500 million in fines are outstanding.

Susan Garossino, director of court services for the city, wrote that there are 287,046 accounts that have been outstanding for more than 20 years. The total amount owed on those accounts: $100,856,723


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