NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - A company sued Monday by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says disputed charges were perfectly legal.

Northern Leasing Systems and its affiliates lease credit card processing machines and other equipment to small businesses. Schneiderman says the companies have siphoned more than $10 million in unauthorized debits from the bank accounts of more than 100,000 former customers.

"The taxes and fees in question were clearly called for in the lease agreement with our customers," the company said Tuesday in a statement.

"The company looks forward to demonstrating this to the satisfaction of everyone concerned. We have always prided ourselves on the fairness of our business practices."

Schneiderman says the company used a shell company to make the charges. He says his office received more than 70 complaints from around the country.

Northern Leasing allegedly set up the collection scheme with SKS Associates to seize the administrative fees years after the leases expired and make it less likely that people would battle the charges.

All collections were allegedly channeled through SKS, which began to withdraw money from the former customers before it had registered to legally conduct business.

Schneiderman's lawsuit seeks full restitution for the former customers allegedly defrauded in the scheme, injunctive relief prohibiting Northern Leasing and its affiliates from engaging in deceptive collection practices, and the disgorgement of all penalties, profits and fees.

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at

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