Consumer Protection Quarterly Newsletter

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Consumer Protection Newsletter

Summer 2018

Attorney General Herring Sues Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers for Alleged Deceptive Conduct in Selling “Diabetic Alert Dogs”
In May, the Consumer Protection Section sued Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers a Virginia-based company that sells purported service dogs to consumers nationwide, and its CEO, Charles D. Warren, Jr., for alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law. The suit alleges that Service Dogs and Warren sold “diabetic alert dogs” for tens of thousands of dollars, when they were often delivering poorly-trained puppies with significant behavioral issues and inadequate skills or training to notify a customer of a potentially life-threatening high or low blood sugar situation.  Read more about the suit here . . .



Summer Travel Trips to Prevent Identity Theft

Heading out of town for a summer vacation trip?  Remember these tips to reduce the chance you’ll become a victim of identity theft:

  • Limit what you carry.  Take only the ID, credit cards, and debit cards you need.  Leave your Social Security card and other cards you don’t need at home.
  • Know the risks of using public Wi-Fi.  Many hotels, airports, cafes, and other public places offer wireless networks that you can use to get online.  Remember that Wi-Fi hotspots often are not secure.  If you connect to a public Wi-Fi network and send information through websites or mobile apps, the information might be accessed by someone you did not intend to get it.  Only send information to sites that are fully encrypted.  Look for https at the start of the web address for every page you visit.  Watch out for free networks that scammers set up using names similar to the hotel, airport, or cafe.  Be sure you are connecting to the authorized network.
  • Protect your smartphone.  Use a password or pin.  Report a stolen smartphone to the local police and to your wireless provider.
  • Watch your laptop.  Always keep a close eye on your laptop when traveling.  Store it in the safe in your hotel room.  Never leave a laptop unattended.
  • Look out for skimming devices at ATMs and gas stations.  Scammers use cameras, keypad overlays, and skimming devices placed over the machine’s card reader to capture information from your card’s magnetic strip.  Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it.  Be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue.  When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.  If possible, use an ATM at an inside location where access for criminals to install skimmers is limited.  Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas since they are a popular target of skimmers.

Don’t Be Scammed By Unwanted Robocalls 

Internet-based technology has made it cheap and easy for scam artists to make robocalls and spoof fake caller ID information. Follow these tips to avoid scams by robocallers:

  • Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize.
  • If it’s an unwanted robocall, hang up. 
  • Don’t press 1 to speak to a live operator and don’t press any other number to get your number off the calling list. If you respond by pressing a number, you likely will get more robocalls.
  • Register your home and mobile phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry at or by calling 1-888-382-1222 from the number you wish to register.
  • Report robocalls to the National Do Not Call Registry Federal and state law enforcement officials have access to the complaints filed through the National Registry.
  • Contact your phone service provider and ask about available robocall-blocking technology. 
  • Consider using mobile apps or other features that may already be built into your phone to block robocalls.
  • For more about robocall-blocking technologies, consider this information from the Federal Trade Commission.




Covered in this Edition: 

Attorney General Herring Sues Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers for Alleged Deceptive Conduct in Selling “Diabetic Alert Dogs”

Summer Travel Trips to Prevent Identity Theft
Don’t Be Scammed By Unwanted Robocalls
Check Out Businesses in Our Complaint Database
Buying a Car This Summer?  Watch Out for Flood-Damaged Vehicles!

Attorney General Herring Brings Enforcement Actions Against Unlicensed Contractors

Predatory Lending Unit Sues Net Credit - One of Virginia's Largest Online Lenders

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Check Out Businesses in Our Consumer Complaint Database 

Before doing business with a company, check to see if any complaints have been filed with our office.  The Virginia Attorney General’s Office serves as the central clearinghouse for consumer complaints in Virginia.  You can search our complaint database to find the number of complaints filed against a specific business, whether the complaints are open or closed, and a description of the outcome of individual complaints.  While the filing of a complaint with our office and entry in our database is not a finding of wrongdoing, you might find the available complaint information helpful as you decide whether to do business with a particular company.  Search our consumer complaint database

Buying a Car This Summer?  Watch Out for Flood-Damaged Vehicles! 
If your shopping for a used car this summer, be sure you don’t buy a vehicle that was damaged during last year’s storms.  Massive flooding from last summer’s hurricanes caused significant water damage to countless vehicles.  The dangers of water-damaged cars can be hidden.  Read more about flood-damaged vehicles and inspection tips that may help detect significant water damage . . .


Attorney General Herring Brings Enforcement Actions Against Unlicensed Contractors
Attorney General Herring filed a lawsuit against one unlicensed contractor and reached settlements with two others.  Herring sued Ricky Harmon Pettit, operating under Pettit’s Home Improvement, Ricky H. Pettit Home Improvement, and R. H. Pettit Builders in Central and Northern Virginia, for providing unlicensed contractor work in consumers’ homes, taking payments and not completing the work, and falsely telling consumers that he was insured and licensed with the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation Board for Contractors.  The Attorney General also entered into separate settlements with Timothy Oneal White, operating as White Renovation and Construction and White Renovations in the City of Roanoke, and Gerald Lee Whitfield, operating as Whitfield’s Home Improvements in the City of Chesapeake, to resolve alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act.  Read more about the enforcement actions and tips to remember when hiring a contractor here . . .
Predatory Lending Unit Sues Net Credit – One of Virginia’s Largest Online Lenders
Attorney General Herring’s Predatory Lending Unit recently filed suit against Chicago-based Net Credit, one of the largest online lenders operating in Virginia, for lending and collections practices that allegedly violate the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The lawsuit alleges that Net Credit issued loans of $1,000 to $10,000 to more than 47,000 Virginia borrowers between 2012 and 2018 with interest rates ranging from 34% to 155%. In one example cited in the lawsuit, a Virginia borrower was responsible for more than $6,000 in repayments for just $2,000 borrowed.  Read more about the suit here . . .
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