According to a press release issued by NCO Financial Systems, the debt collection agency has arrived at a settlement with 19 state Attorneys General, agreeing to pay a total of $575,000, as well as to set up a $50,000 consumer restitution fund in each state. The states affected are Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
According to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, consumers who are eligible to receive restitution either:
* Paid NCO for a debt they did not owe;
* Overpaid interest on a debt that was not supported by the underlying agreement between the consumer and the original debt holder or that was otherwise permitted by law; or
* Paid more on a debt than the amount NCO agreed to settle the account.
The restitution funds are available through February 6, 2015. If you think you are impacted by the settlement, you should visit your state Attorney General’s website.
According to Vermont Attorney General William Sorrel’s press release, NCO’s settlement included provisions that the company must:
* comply with applicable state and federal law;
* for debts reported to credit reporting agencies, notify the agencies within 30 calendar days of any consumer dispute;
* provide notice to consumers about their debt collection rights under federal and state law; monitor compliance, including through training employees and independent contractors and creating policies and procedures for handling customer complaints; and
* submit compliance reports to involved states every 6 months for 18 months.
Several news reports have noted that NCO must, within 30 days, notify credit reporting agencies of verbal disputes (as opposed to only written disputes) from consumers.