WASHINGTON, D.C. (Legal Newsline) - Alaska Attorney General Michael Geraghty announced on Monday that the state has joined 18 other states in a settlement with debt collector NCO Financial Systems Inc., resolving allegations of unfair debt collection practices.

NCOF will pay $575,000 to the states for education efforts and consumer protection enforcement. Alaska will receive a $26,562 share of the settlement.

Under the terms of the agreement, NCOF must provide notice to consumers about their debt collection rights under state and federal law, comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and all applicable state laws, monitor compliance, including monitoring and training its independent contractors and representatives, create written procedures and policies for handling complaints for consumers, and submit compliance reports to the states every six months for 18 months.

In addition, NCOF must notify the credit reporting agencies within 30 calendar days for debts reported to the credit reporting agencies of any written or verbal customer disputes or after receiving the results of an inquiry into the completeness or accuracy of information that has been previously reported.

NCOF will provide consumer restitution that will be available for three years after the effective date of the agreement. The company will set aside $950,000, $50,000 for each of the 19 states participating to refund consumers who have claims that meet one of several criteria.

Consumers will be eligible for refunds if they paid NCOF a third party debt that they didn't owe, overpaid interest on a third party debt that was unsupported by the underlying agreement between the original holder of the debt and the debtor or as permitted by law, or paid more on a third party debt than the amount that NCOF had originally agreed upon to settle the account.

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