West Virginia consumers that were charged fees by an Ohio debt collector trying to collect on delinquent tuition payments can now get a refund through the state attorney general's office.

The refunds are part of a May 20 settlement between National Enterprise Systems and the state to end a lawsuit brought by the attorney general's Consumer Protection Division. State law bars a debt collector from adding fees to school tuition debts. The state sued the company last year, alleging it used strong-arm tactics including telephone harassment and false threats of arrest. National Enterprise collected tuition debts for schools including West Virginia University and West Virginia State College.

National Enterprise denied the allegations and claimed the schools, not itself, had tacked on the fees to the tuition debts.

The collection agency agreed to pay $75,000 to the state and a portion of that will be used for refunds. Consumers who can provide proof of paying fees to National Enterprise are eligible for refunds. Get claim forms and a letter explaining the claims process by calling the state at (800) 368-8808 or from the attorney general's website.

The National Enterprise case is the latest in a state crackdown on debt collection companies which charge consumers illegal fees under state law.

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