Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has secured $207,500 in consumer restitution and a comparable amount in payment to the state’s Consumer Protection Enforcement Fund in a settlement with Solon-based National Enterprise Systems, Inc. (NES). 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 (FDCPA). 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.
In addition to restitution, NES has agreed to the following provisions to improve its business practices:
- Train employees to comply with applicable state and federal law.
- Send written communication within five days of first contact and include the amount of debt, the name of the creditor, a notice that the consumer has 30 days to dispute debt, how to dispute the debt and how to ask for validation of the debt.
- Include in settlement agreements the total amount due, settlement amount, monthly payment amount and approval of creditor.
- Add a disclosure on all written collection communication stating that Ohio law requires fair treatment of consumers and that consumers can write a letter to prevent a debt collector from contacting them. Additionally, the communication will provide the Ohio Attorney General office’s contact information for consumers to file concerns.
Cordray said today that his office will continue to monitor NES and all debt collection agencies with Ohio accounts. He encourages Ohioans who have been the subject of overly aggressive debt collection practices to contact his office by calling (800) 282-0515 or www.SpeakOutOhio.gov.