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Revenue for the top collection agencies rose nearly 20% in 2008, despite a troubled economy, lower liquidation rates and riskier - albeit cheaper - debt portfolios, according to Collection & Credit Risk's annual Industry Rankings survey.

The trend may continue through year as agencies expect revenue, on average, to increase 5.8% in 2009. A key objective behind CCR's report is to identify market trends based on information participants provide in the surveys –including gross collections, hiring and revenue performance.

NCO Financial Systems Inc., based in Horsham, Pa., sits atop the list of agencies with $1.5 billion in annual revenue for 2008, a 25% increase from the previous year. NCO's revenue was nearly four times more than the No. 2 agency.

Debt buyers did not fare as well as collection agencies. Their combined revenue fell nearly 7% in 2008 and they expect revenue to fall another 12% this year, according to their combined forecasted 2009 revenues.

Complete results of the survey and a listing of the top agencies and buyers based on revenue appear in the magazine's August issue.

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