CHARLESTON - State Attorney General Darrell McGraw reached a settlement agreement with a Georgia-based debt collector which will provide more than $40,000 in refunds.

The amount will be spread to consumers who claim their monthly bills increased for no reason after transferring them to Financial Asset Management Systems, Inc.

In addition to $40,883.62 in refunds, $249,173.58 will be provided in cancellation of unlawful fees for 3,125 individuals.

According to a release from McGraw's office, the investigation was prompted by a complaint from a consumer whose cell phone bill increased by $500 after it was transferred to FAMS for collection.

"West Virginia law prohibits collecting or attempting to collect interest or other charges, fees or expenses incidental to the principal obligation of a debt," the release says. "This law applies both to professional debt collectors and to creditors collecting their own accounts."

McGraw's office adds that FAMS cooperated with the investigation and promptly stopped collecting the added fees.

"Under the settlement, FAMS will provide refunds of the unlawful fees to consumers who have already paid the fees and will cancel the fees that were previously added to other consumer accounts," the release says.

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