Illegal Debt Collection Practices
West Virginians have many rights, which help protect them from collection agents or billing department staff who don’t follow the rules. Some of the specific consumer protection statutes that come into play in consumer actions include the West Virginia Consumer Credit & Protection Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which restrict the practices used by collection agencies to collect bills.
Many problems arise from the sale and resale of debts. Debt buyers purchase debt from others and then try to collect it. Often, debt is purchased, sold and resold many times. The Federal Trade Commission receives more consumer complaints about debt collectors, including debt buyers, than about any other single industry. Many of these complaints appear to have their origins in the quantity and quality of information that collectors have about debts. In a 2009 study, the FTC showed concern that debt collectors, including debt buyers, may have insufficient or inaccurate information when they collect on debts. This results in debt collectors seeking to recover from the wrong consumer or recover the wrong amount.
One of the consequences of the bad information is that debt collectors will seek to collect a debt from someone who does not owe it. Oftentimes, it is senior citizens who are asked to pay for debts they do not owe. These are not abstract cases: in one well-known West Virginia case, a debt collector illegally called a consumer over 900 times among other abusive tactics, even though the debt collector knew the consumer was represented by a lawyer.
Most consumer protection laws allow successful plaintiffs to collect monetary damages, costs and attorney fees from the defendant or defendant’s business. If you believe you have been the victim of illegal debt collection tactics, then contact us for a consultation.