Dorsey Thornton & Associates LLC, a Georgia-based collection company, entered into a $15.5 million settlement agreement with the state's Governor's Office of Consumer Protection to resolve allegations that the agency harassed and deceived thousands of consumers.

The OCP charged the agency and its principal owners, Wyteria Dorsey and Michael Thornton, with several violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act after the agency received a series of complaints from consumers.

The complaints, according to the OCP, included that the firm was threatening consumers with arrest or imprisonment if they didn’t pay their supposed debts, refused to provide written proof of any debts, identified themselves as “investigators” rather than collectors, applied pressure by contacting third parties and divulging information about accounts, unlawfully calling before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m. and continuing to contact them after consumers told the firm to stop.

“Debt collectors who engage in this kind of harassment, deception and other illegal behavior in the state of Georgia must and will pay a steep price,” John Sours, Administrator of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, said in a statement.

Under the terms of the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, Dorsey Thornton & Associates agreed to forego the collection of 31,433 consumer accounts, totaling $15.5 million in debt. The company will also pay an undisclosed civil penalty and undisclosed reimbursement for investigative and legal expenses incurred by the OCP.

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