Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 at
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced that his office had reached a settlement with debt collection agency DP & Associates for engaging in “unlawful and threatening debt collection practices and attempt(ing) to collect debts without a license.”
Attorney General McGraw has been tenacious in going after companies that engage in unethical and illegal debt collection practices. The settlement involves DP & Associates zeroing out West Virginians’ account balances and releasing any judgments against West Virginians.
Actions such as McGraws and those of other state attorneys general underscore the necessity of filing a complaint with your state attorney general when a debt collector crosses the line. Doing so doesn’t take away your right to sue a debt collector for violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but does lend your voice to those of other consumers to ensure that debt collectors stay on the right side of the law.
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 at
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw is vigilant when it comes to debt collection practices. His office recently announced that it filed suit against seven debt collection agencies that are unlicensed in West Virginia after the agencies refused to comply with subpoenas for records of their collection activities. According to a press release issued by McGraw’s office, the AG received complaints that the debt collection agencies “engaged in a wide range of abusive and unlawful debt collection practices, including repeated harassing phone calls, impersonating law enforcement and judicial officers, making false threats that nonpayment will result in arrest or criminal prosecution, and collecting nonexistent debts or debts that have already been paid.”
The debt collection agencies being sued are County Filing Services; Portfolio Investment Financial; Investment Management and Recoveries; Rosenthal, Stein and Associates; Vision Credit Solutions; National Capital Management; and Dorsey Thornton & Associates. Several individuals related to these companies are also named in the suits.
Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 at
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced a settlement in the state’s case against Capital One and its sister companies. The case related to the lender’s credit card practices prior to January 1, 2006. Although the settlement means that Capital One does not have to admit to any wrongdoing, the financial institution is ponying up $13.5 million. According to a press release issued from McGraw’s office, “Capital One agrees to provide $3 million in debt forgiveness to West Virginia consumers, $9.5 million to the State of West Virginia to be used for financial relief for West Virginia consumers, and $1 million to the Attorney General’s office for consumer education and restitution.”
Friday, August 5th, 2011 at
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has been aggressive in enforcing his state’s debt collection laws and ensuring that West Virginia consumers aren’t victimized by debt collectors. The latest news, as reported by the West Virginia Record, is that the AG has settled cases against two debt collection agencies, namely Northtown Capital Associates, Inc., and Interstate Check Systems, Inc.
McGraw investigated the two debt collection agencies, who were collecting on behalf of Internet payday lender Payday Yes, after receiving a complaint that they were operating in the state without licenses or surety bonds. Payday Yes had, as part of a previous settlement, closed the accounts of West Virginia consumers, since Internet payday loans are illegal in the state.
As part of the settlement, Northtown Capital and Interstate Check Systems will refund or cancel about $11,000 in debts and pay the state $5,000.
Saturday, June 25th, 2011 at
When it comes to suing unscrupulous debt collectors, most consumers seek relief under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Yet most states also have laws relating to debt collection practices. Although many states’ laws relate to licensing, some states are more rigorous in protecting consumers. West Virginia, for example, has the Consumer Credit and Protection Act. The boundaries of that law are being tested in court. In Linda Barr v. NCB Management Services and HSBC Bank of Nevada, the judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia found that state law was murky, and asked the West Virginia Supreme Court for clarification.
According to debt collection industry group Inside ARM, at issue was whether or not the judge should grant NCB’s request to dismiss the case because the state law grants consumers the ability to sue creditors, but not debt collectors.
The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that, while the term “creditor” was not defined, the legislative intent was to “provide broad consumer protection from unfair, illegal and deceptive business practices,” and therefore “must be liberally construed to accomplish that purpose.” The Supreme Court did not decide on the merits of the case, so their interpretive ruling goes back to the District Court judge.
According to the West Virginia Record, AARP, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, and the National Consumer Law Center supported the plaintiff’s assertion that “a debt collector qualifies as a creditor whether it acts as a lender’s agent or purchases the debt from the lender.”
Friday, April 22nd, 2011 at
Although some states have laws that regulate the debt collection industry, these are most often either business licensing laws or laws that give the state attorney general the power to bring actions against unscrupulous debt collectors. In order for a consumer to sue a debt collector for unfair collection practices, the consumer most often must rely on the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
West Virginia consumers may have another avenue of redress, however, if a case wending its way through the court system is decided in favor of the plaintiff. As reported in the West Virginia Record, a consumer is attempting to sue a NCB Management Services using the state’s fair debt law. The defendants are arguing that the law doesn’t apply to them because it only applies to original creditors, not to third-party debt collection agencies. The plaintiff, along with organizations like AARP that have filed amicus briefs, is arguing that the West Virginia Credit Consumer Protection Act allows for private enforcement actions. The state Attorney General’s office seems to agree.
A district court judge has turned to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for a ruling. The high court heard arguments last week, and is expected to hand down a decision in June.
Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 at
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw is doggedly going after debt collection agencies that violate the state’s business licensing requirements. On the heels of his settlements with National Recovery Services and Carpenter Capital Investments, his office announced that it had entered into settlement agreements with debt buyers Trailhead Capital and Troy Capital. The agreements will wipe out over $1.25 million of old debt for West Virginians, and will entitle others to $15,000 in cash refunds.
McGraw lashed out against debt buyers, saying, “Rather than working with consumers to develop plans that might enable them to pay their debt over time, banks increasingly sell defaulted credit card debt for pennies on the dollar to collection agencies called debt buyers. Debt buyers often take overly aggressive collection actions that include the filing of lawsuits – even when they have little proof of the debts they seek to collect from consumers.”
The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers across the country, but many states have licensing statutes related to debt collection. West Virginia’s law says that anyone who directly or indirectly collects a debt in that state must register and post a bond. Neither Trailhead Capital nor Troy Capital was registered in West Virginia.
Friday, September 10th, 2010 at
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw recently announced that his office had reached a settlement with National Recovery Services and Carpenter Capital Investments for allegedly violating the state’s business licensing laws. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers across the country, but many states have licensing statutes related to debt collection. West Virginia’s law says that anyone who directly or indirectly collects a debt in that state must register and post a bond. Carpenter Capital Investments is a debt buyer that purchased bad debt, and then turned it over to National Recovery Services. Neither company was registered in West Virginia.
The settlement includes provisions that Carpenter Capital Investments would “cancel the outstanding balances of West Virginia consumers whose debts it had previously assigned for collection.”
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 at
West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw’s Consumer Protection Division has sued 17 internet payday lenders, numerous collection agencies and their principals.
According to the official press release from the WV Attorney General’s office, the lawsuits are part of the Division’s efforts to end the “victimization of West Virginia consumers by Internet payday lenders and their collection agencies.”
The Charleston Gazette published an article covering the lawsuits that goes into greater detail than the press release. The first suit names a series of related ventures and individuals that operated websites that made loans with unlawfully high interest rates under the trade name “FFD Resources.”
Consumers who took out payday loans from the defendants ended up paying as much as ten times the principal in interest.
The companies named in the lawsuit had ignored McGraw’s investigative subpoenas and violated a court order prohibiting collection on their unlawful loans in the state.
The second suit requests that the court order four collection agencies, Capital Collections, LLC, Claims Investigators of America, Crime Monitoring Center and Premier Recovery Group, to comply with the Attorney General’s subpoenas and to stop collecting in West Virginia.
We applaud the WV Attorney General’s commitment to consumer protection. Some of the companies sued are notorious violators of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and are extremely skilled at dodging the law.