Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced this week that his office has reached a consent judgment with Elite Financial Services Inc., a debt settlement company that allegedly misrepresented its services.

Elite Financial, based in Massachusetts, allegedly charged consumers upfront fees and promised to reduce their unsecured debt. In most cases, the company never followed through with those promises.

"The debt settlement industry has sought to profit from the fear and stress many Missourians are experiencing in these difficult economic times," Koster says.

The company agreed to an injunction barring it from accepting business from Missourians and to refund all fees paid by consumers in the state who submit complaints to the AG's office by Dec. 19, 2011. The company agreed to no longer operate in Missouri.

Elite Financial officials could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Adds Koster: "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% or more, but in reality, most consumers end up worse off by following their advice."

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