National Enterprise Systems, Inc., a collection agency, will provide $207,500 in restitution to Ohio consumers, in a settlement with that state's attorney general.
NES will also pay a comparable amount to Ohio's Consumer Protection Enforcement Fund, according to Attorney General Richard Cordray.
In July, Cordray sued the collection agency for harassing consumers when attempting to collect on debt. As a result of the agreed consent judgment filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland, NES has agreed to make changes in its debt collection practices as well as the agreed amount of payments.
"Our lawsuit outlined a laundry list of clear violations of consumers' rights," said Cordray. "With today's settlement, not only will consumers receive restitution but the company will implement new policies and procedures to prevent this from happening again. Ohioans deserve a fighting chance to pay back debt without being demeaned, deceived or harassed."
Cordray's lawsuit charged NES with engaging in practices that violated Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA) and the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Some of the practices alleged included calling and harassing consumers' coworkers and family members, calling before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m., using abusive language, attempting to collect debts consumers did not owe, failing to verify debts and making unauthorized withdrawals from consumers' bank accounts.
Cordray's office has more than 390 complaints on record against NES. Consumers who filed complaints prior to the agreement may be eligible to receive $200 or more in restitution and will receive notification through the mail.