Skinner Law Firm’s Consumer Protection Attorneys represent clients in a wide array of federal and state (West Virginia only) consumer law matters. Some of the more familiar actions include: new vehicle lemon law cases, car sales fraud, unlawful lending practices, unlawful foreclosures, zombie debt collection, and other illegal debt collection matters. Stephen Skinner leads the Consumer Law practice at Skinner Law Firm. For more information about some of the areas we practice please continue reading or contact us with your inquiry to setup a no-cost case evaluation.

Consumer Fraud & Deceptive Practices

For nearly 50 years, the Consumer Credit & Protection Act has helped protect West Virginia citizens. Skinner Law Firm represents consumers in a wide range of consumer fraud actions including unfair and deceptive practices. We also handle class actions against businesses and employers who defraud individual consumers. Some of the consumer protection statutes that come into play in consumer actions include the West Virginia Consumer Credit & Protection Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), which are designed to protect those borrowing money or making purchases for personal use. Most consumer protection laws allow successful plaintiffs to collect monetary damages, costs and attorney fees from the defendant or defendant’s business.

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.

Lemon Law and Car Sales Fraud

Most people do not realize they are protected by state and federal law when something goes wrong with a car under warranty. Most state and federal laws require that a car seller or manufacturer pay the attorney fees. We generally represent car owners without any cost to them. If you have purchased a new car and it has turned out to be a lemon then contact Skinner Law Firm for a free consultation.  Contact us to schedule an appointment. Because of the volume of calls, we must limit our practice to cars that still have their original manufacturer’s warranty.

Zombie Debt Collection & Your Rights

“Zombie Debt” is ole debt that you should not be sued for because the statute of limitations has run.   It’s called Zombie Debt because it should be dead, but unscrupulous debt collectors keep bringing it back to life.

How does this happen? Often, a “debt buyer” purchases debts from another company and then tries to collect it using phone calls and letters. These debt buyers will normally buy these debts for pennies on the dollar. Often, these debts are purchased, sold and resold many times. The lack of information that these debt buyers and collectors have about these debts is alarming. 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 can result in debt collectors trying to recover from the wrong person or the wrong amount or even filing suit past the statute of limitations.

What happens?  The less reputable debt buyers and collectors use intimidation, harassment, deception, or other abusive tactics to get their victims to pay or make payments on the debt. Because the debt buyers have literally bought the debt for pennies, any collection on the debt generally amounts to a windfall for the debt buyer. Worse yet, some of these debt buyers will take these large payments on the debt and then sell the debt to another debt buyer, resulting in a new round of collection tactics by another company for the same debt. In the worst cases, the giant debt buyers will often file hundreds of lawsuits at a time and try to get default judgements in order to garnish wages.What are my rights?  Consumer protections provided by the West Virginia Consumer Credit & Protection Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act make it illegal for debt buyers to file lawsuits for Zombie Debt.  Additionally, in West Virginia, every Zombie Debt collector must give a notice that they are trying to collect a debt that they can’t sue for.    At Skinner Law Firm, we represent clients who have been unlawfully contacted by debt collectors. If you believe you have been subjected to unlawful collection tactics, then contact us for a no cost consultation.  Often, we can stop a lawsuit in its tracks and even obtain money for you because the debt collectors broke the rules!