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02-04-2009 11:27 AM
NCO Financial Systems agrees to implement important changes in business practices
DALLAS – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today resolved the state’s enforcement action against debt collection firm NCO Financial Systems Inc., which was charged with violating the Texas Debt Collection Act. According to state investigators, NCO unlawfully made harassing and threatening phone calls to purported debtors. Under the settlement, NCO must implement policies that ensure its debt collection efforts fully comply with this law.
Today’s agreement protects Texans from unlawful debt collection practices,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Texas law prohibits collection agencies from using unlawful threats and coercion to collect debts. With today’s agreement, the world’s largest debt collector agreed to implement safeguards that will protect debtors and ensure full compliance with the law.”
NCO Financial Systems, Inc. handled debt collection for its affiliate, NCO Portfolio Management Inc., which manages credit card, telecommunications, and medical-related debts. According to consumer complaints, NCO Financial Systems representatives made harassing and sometimes profanity-laden telephone calls to Texans, some of whom had never incurred the debt at all. NCO Financial Systems also improperly claimed that certain individuals owed debts when, in fact, the actual debtors had different middle initials or Social Security numbers.
Many Texans also complained that NCO Financial Systems failed to verify that debts were actually owed. Thus, the defendant continued its billing process even after frustrated recipients disputed their bills or sent cease-and-desist letters. NCO Financial Systems also threatened to report debts to credit reporting agencies that were more than seven years old.
"Today’s settlement agreement requires NCO Financial Systems to properly validate the debts that it attempts to collect when appropriately challenged by consumers. Moreover, NCO has agreed to spend $300,000 over the next three years to monitor its collection practices so that it complies with protections offered to consumers by the Texas Debt Collection Act.
To settle the attorney general’s enforcement action, NCO Financial Systems will establish a three-year $150,000 restitution fund to compensate Texans harmed by its unlawful acts. The company will remit $100,000 to the state’s general revenue fund, along with $150,000 in attorneys’ fees.
NCO Financial Systems, which claims to be the “world’s largest” debt collector, operates call centers in 28 states and eight foreign countries, according to its Web site.
02-04-2009 06:30 PM
02-05-2009 12:49 AM
BTW, in this case, the leading attorney for NCO, the largest CA in the world, was Harriet Miers - former White House counsel and supreme Court Justice nominee - we should all feel relieved she wasn't confirmed.