Worldwide Asset Management, a debt-buying unit of West Asset Management, agreed to pay an $85,000 penalty and change its business practices as part of a settlement with Maryland regulators, the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation said Thursday.

The agency said it has "reasonable grounds" to believe that the company — also known as Worldwide Asset Purchasing and West Asset Purchasing — was breaking state law barring unfair and misleading collections practices, as well as attempting to collect debts from Maryland consumers without a required license.

Representatives did not admit wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement. The company told the state that it has stopped filing suits against Marylanders, but it agreed to seek a license if it resumes debt collection here. The settlement does not affect cases the company already had started against state residents.

Last year, officials at West Corp., the parent company of West Asset Management, announced the company will no longer buy charged-off consumer debt. According to a company SEC filing, it has not bought a debt portfolio since early 2009.

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