Fine in Florence

We have ignored the notices from Florence for driving in a restricted area. Now we have had a collection agency in Canada, Collection Recovery Systems, contact us with a notice of an increased fine. What was 103 Euros is now $413.01. Needless to say, we are ticked off! When I called the agency in Oshawa, Ontario, about the little note on the form which indicated that if I did not pay the fine in the time alloted, "We have taken steps to proceed with legal action." Then in bold type: "Govern Yourself Accordingly." The lady did say that the agency would likely not pursue legal action because of the "small amount." Anyone have experience with a 'local' agency collecting on behalf of the EMO? Any advice? Sam

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6724 posts

From long experience on this site, ticket collection was limited to agencies in Italy. I suspect that many people have ignored the notices. Most likely, there were guilty of either entering a restricted zone or speeding. In both circumstances, they have a picture of your license plate. You did have a chance at a court date but you were never provided with this information. You only received the notice after it had gone to a collection agency. Recenlty, we have learned that the City of Florence has retained collection agencies on this side of the Atlantic. Seems they are getting more serious about collecting the money. Since you are in Canada, you might pay attention to this one.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Even if they don't "take legal action" (and I wouldn't count on that), your credit rating is affected when something goes to a collection agency and isn't paid. I would just pay (and regret that I didn't do so sooner, when the amount was smaller).

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3344 posts

The City of Florence uses a 3rd party credit collection agency called Nivi Credit s.r.l., a Division of E.M.O. (European Municipality Outsourcing) for the collection of fines incurred by foreign residents. Collection Recovery Systems may be affiliated to EMO. According to what I read in Italian newspapers these agencies get 30% of whatever they can recover. Legal action is unlikely given the amount at stake. Before paying however you should inquire and ask for documentation, just to make sure it's not a scam (which have actually happened, according to news reports I read). If you intend to pay, rather than fight it, I'm pretty sure you can settle for the original amount of the fine and they'll take it. I've read in message boards that after some exchanges of emails that is what has happened to some individuals. So contact the agency and see. If you don't pay, the Collection Agency will likely return the matter to the issuer (City of Florence - Municipal Police) which ultimately will decide whether to pursue legal action in Canada. It is extremely unlikely they'll even attempt anything of that sort, given the expense involved. However if you decide to go back to Italy one day (before the expiration of the statute of limitations, I think 3 or 5 years), they might take action against you then (I doubt it, but nevertheless you should take it into consideration). So far I read that the collection rate for Italian cities that have engaged in the practice of hiring international collection agency is between 30 and 50%. If one day you find yourself in trouble with the Italian police, you can always try Berlusconi's defense: "She told me that she was 24 y.o. and that she was Mubarak's niece. So I gave her 5000 Euros to avoid a diplomatic incident". See if you can get away with it too.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1972 posts

My credit card was billed by Hertz for a ticket for speeding on the causeway going into Venice. I assume they had an automatic camera/radar setup. I later got a second charge for Hertz' administration fee for paying the ticket. I didn't have any choice to pay the ticket since it was on my VISA bill. Collection agencies mark'em up and accept less. You should first request documentation of the ticket being issued. You should settle with them on a set dollar amount to forgive the debt. The collection agency should put the proposal in writing, and that the debt will not be reported to any reporting agency. They should send you a copy prior to you're sending payment. If you don't pay the ticket, they're not going to file any suit in a Canadian court for only $103. They could report the debt to a credit bureau, however.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17780 posts

Sam, It appears that you violated one of the dreaded Zona Traffico Limitato areas by driving through one of the automated Cameras, which cover Florence extensively. You didn't say, but were you also charged an "administrative fee" from the rental agency on your credit card? Based on a number of other posts I've seen here lately, it appears that authorities in Italy have now resorted to using collection agencies both in the U.S. and Canada. As with any collection agency, they can be persistent and often take a "threatening" tone. Given the amount that Italian authorities are losing in unpaid fines from foreigners, they could eventually decide to pursue court action to "make an example" of someone. In the same situation, I'd follow the suggestion that Roberto made to try and pay the original amount of the fine. It's worth a try. The Berlusconi defense won't work as you can't afford the same calibre of Avvocati that he has. Good luck!