CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced a settlement agreement on Wednesday with an Ohio-based collection agency.
The settlement ends a lawsuit by McGraw's Consumer Protection Division against National Enterprise Systems for allegedly using strong-arm tactics to collect debts. The lawsuit also alleged that National Enterprise Systems representatives specifically engaged in telephone harassment, as well as false threats of lawsuits, arrest and criminal prosecution.
The suit also alleges that National Enterprise Systems, which attempted to collect debts owed to many colleges, added unlawful fees to accounts.
Under the settlement agreement, National Enterprise Systems will pay the State $75,000. The funds will be used to provide restitution to those who filed complaints and to repay students and consumers who allegedly paid unlawful fees. Funds will also be used by McGraw's office for consumer protection and education programs.
National Enterprise Systems also agreed to submit a comprehensive plan within 90 days that outlines actions the company will take to meet the terms of the order.
"Notwithstanding the alleged conduct that led to this lawsuit, I am satisfied that NES is committed to resolving our concerns and I commend the company for agreeing to this settlement," McGraw said.
"It is my hope that the actions taken in this and similar cases will place the collection industry on notice that the rules of fair and ethical conduct will be strictly enforced in West Virginia."