Nevada Making Headway Collecting Debts

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Nevada has been making headway in debt collections, taking in $3 million over the past three years, state Controller Kathy Augustine said.

Augustine said Monday that collections were averaging about 20 percent on $17 million in debt owed by companies no longer in business, or by individuals to agencies including the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Augustine's office has contracts with two private firms, OSI Collection Services Inc. of St. Louis, and Crisis Recovery of Reno, which assist in debt collection.

Nineteen state agencies use Augustine's office for debt-collection efforts. A total of $157 million is owed the state. The Taxation Department, to which most debts are owed, collects debts on its own and with assistance from private firms.

Teresa Moiola, assistant controller, said the costs incurred by the collection companies are assessed to people and companies who owe the state. Most of the $3 million collected has gone into the state treasury.

"Outsourcing debt collection is one of the most effective ways to collect debt, as the majority of the cost is passed on to the debtor," Augustine said.

Moiola that a debt-offset program identifies debtors who later bill the state for goods or services. Before they are paid, the amount they owe the state is deducted.

During the 2003 Legislature, a law was passed that put in effect a mandatory $25 fee for checks returned for insufficient funds. Previously, some agencies did not charge bad check fees.

Augustine said the fee, requested by her office, should produce an additional $80,000 in revenue for the state over the next two years.


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