Consumer Protection Quarterly Newsletter

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Consumer Protection Newsletter

Fall 2020 

Covered in this Edition: 

Attorney General Herring Warns Virginians of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams


Herring Files Antitrust Suits Against Facebook and Google


Attorney General Herring Reaches Settlement with Internet Lender Advance Financial


Legislation to Strengthen Virginia’s Anti-Price Gouging Law is Enacted


Attorney General Herring Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Block Robocall Loopholes

Attorney General Herring Reaches $86.3 Million Settlement with Mortgage Servicer Nationstar


$113 Million Settlement with Apple Over iPhone Throttling


Herring Reaches Settlements with Anthem and Home Depot Over Data Breaches


Virginia Joins $60 Million Settlement with C.R. Bard


Call Our Consumer Protection Hotline

Attorney General Herring Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Block Robocall Loopholes

In October, Attorney General Herring and 37 other attorneys general filed an amicus brief in a U.S. Supreme Court case that will determine the scope of the protections of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA generally prohibits the use of an autodialer or an artificial or pre-recorded voice to make a call to cell phone users. At issue in the case is whether autodialers include any device that can store and dial numbers automatically or whether autodialers are limited to devices that use a random number generator. In the brief, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues argue that the TCPA applies to all kinds of devices that store and dial numbers automatically. Read more about the court filing here . . .

 

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Attorney General Herring Warns Virginians of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

With the rollout of FDA-approved vaccines for COVID-19, Attorney General Herring is urging Virginians to watch out for vaccine-related scams, including fraudulent sales pitches for medications, treatments or vaccines that purport to prevent or cure the coronavirus. Remember these tips to avoid becoming the victim of a COVID-19 vaccine-related scam:

  • Consult a medical professional or a doctor to get the COVID-19 vaccine or treatment
  • Do not buy any kind of COVID-19 vaccine or treatment over the internet or through an online pharmacy
  • Make sure your doctor or physician is approved to administer any kind of COVID-19 vaccine or treatment
  • Ignore any unsolicited or “too good to be true” offers for vaccines, miracle cures, or treatments
  • Be wary of any online ads for COVID-19 vaccines or treatments on social media
  • Do not respond to any unsolicited emails, text messages, or calls that are offering any kind of COVID-19 vaccine or treatment
  • Always talk with your doctor or another healthcare professional before you try any product claiming to treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19

Check out CDC.gov for clear and concise information on COVID-19. And visit the FDA’s Resources page to find out about treatments in development

Herring Files Antitrust Suits Against Facebook and Google 

Attorney General Herring recently filed two separate antitrust lawsuits against Facebook and Google to end their illegal monopolies. Herring and 47 other attorneys general sued Facebook alleging that it illegally stifled competition and continues to do so to protect its monopoly power. The Facebook suit alleges that the social networking giant illegally acquired competitors in a predatory manner and cut services to smaller threats, depriving users from the benefits of competition and reducing privacy protections and services – all in an effort to boost its bottom line through increased advertising revenue. Read more about the Facebook suit here . . . 

Herring and 37 other attorneys general sued Google alleging that it illegally maintains its monopoly power over general search engines and related advertising markets through a series of anticompetitive exclusionary contracts and conduct. The Google suit alleges that Google has deprived consumers of competition that could lead to greater choice, innovation, and better privacy protections. The suit further alleges that Google has exploited its market position to accumulate and leverage data to the detriment of consumers. Read more about the Google suit here. . .
 

Attorney General Herring Reaches Settlement with Internet Lender Advance Financial

Attorney General Herring entered a settlement with Shiva Finance, LLC d/b/a Advance Financial 24/7, a Nashville-based open-end credit plan internet lender, resolving alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Under the settlement, Advance Financial will provide approximately $1.2 million in restitution and credits to approximately 1,500 Virginia consumers. Advance Financial also paid $10,000 in civil penalties and $10,000 in attorney’s fees to the Commonwealth. Read more about the settlement here . . .

Legislation to Strengthen Virginia's Anti-Price Gouging Law is Enacted

During the recent General Assembly Special Session, Attorney General Herring proposed legislation to expand protections against price gouging for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other necessary items during an emergency. The bill was introduced to ensure that existing price gouging prohibitions also apply to manufacturers and distributors that charge unconscionable prices for necessary goods or services during a state of emergency declared by the Governor or President.  Governor Northam signed the legislation on October 21, 2020. Read more about the legislation here. . . 

Attorney General Herring Reaches $86.3 Million Settlement with Mortgage Servicer Nationstar

Virginia joined 50 other attorneys general and other federal and state agencies in securing an $86.3 million settlement with Nationstar Mortgage, the country’s fourth-largest mortgage servicer, which does business as “Mr. Cooper.” The settlement resolves allegations that Nationstar violated consumer protection laws during its servicing of mortgage loans. The settlement provides restitution for a variety of harms that were identified in the investigation, including the thousands of borrowers who had problems when their loans were transferred to Nationstar, leading to foreclosure in some circumstances. Under the settlement, Virginia will receive more than $1.6 million in relief for at least 1,330 Virginia borrowers. Read more about the settlement here . . . 

$113 Million Settlement with Apple Over iPhone Throttling

Attorney General Herring secured a $113 million settlement with Apple, Inc. regarding Apple’s alleged 2016 decision to throttle consumers’ iPhone speeds to address unexpected shutdowns in some iPhones. Based on a multistate investigation, Attorney General Herring and other state attorneys general alleged that Apple discovered that battery issues were leading to the unexpected shutdowns. But rather than disclosing these issues or replacing batteries, Apple concealed the issues from consumers. Virginia’s share of the settlement is $2,648,658.22. Read more about the settlement here. . . 

 

Herring Reaches Settlements with Anthem and Home Depot Over Data Breaches

Attorney General Herring joined a $39.5 million multistate settlement with Anthem over its massive 2014 data breach that involved the personal information of 78.8 million Americans and affected nearly 3.8 million Virginians. As part of the settlement, Anthem agreed to implement a series of data security and good governance practices designed to strengthen its practices going forward. Virginia’s share of the settlement is $1,404,487.61. Read more about the Anthem settlement here . . .

Herring also joined a separate $17.5 million multistate settlement with The Home Depot regarding a 2014 data breach that exposed the payment card information of approximately 40 million consumers nationwide. Home Depot agreed to implement a series of data security practices designed to strengthen its information security program and safeguard the personal information of consumers. Virginia’s share of the settlement is $299,561.60. Read more about the Home Depot settlement here 

 

Virginia Joins $60 Million Settlement with C.R. Bard

Attorney General Herring, along with 47 other states and the District of Columbia, reached a $60 million settlement with C.R. Bard, Inc. and its parent company Becton, Dickinson and Company, to resolve allegations surrounding the deceptive marketing of transvaginal surgical mesh devices, including misrepresenting or failing to adequately disclose serious and life-altering risks or complications of surgical mesh devices. Virginia’s share of the settlement is $1.25 million. Read more about the settlement here . . .
 

Call Our Consumer Protection Hotline

Our telephone counselors are available to assist you with consumer questions. During 2019, we received more than 23,000 telephone calls. If you are unable to find the answer to your question on our website, or if you need other assistance with a consumer protection matter, please call our Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-552-9963 if calling from Virginia, or 804-786-2042 if calling from the Richmond area or from outside Virginia. Our business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
 
 
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