Consumer Protection Quarterly Newsletter

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Consumer Protection Newsletter

Fall 2018

Covered in this Edition: 

Attorney General Herring Sues Purdue Pharma Over its Rule in the Opioid Crisis 


Virginia Joins Nationwide Sweep to Crack Down on Deceptive Veterans Charities
It's the Giving Season, Be a Wise Donor!
Fighting Consumer Fraud & Identity Theft in Virginia
Attorney General Herring Transfers $4.5 Million to General Fund

Are You the Victim of Identity Theft? Get an Identity Theft Passport


During a Declared State of Emergency, Report Unlawful Price Gouging 


 

Attorney General Herring Returns $72,000 to Virginia Homeowners Defrauded by Sea-Thru Windows 

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Attorney General Herring Transfers Nearly $4.5 Million to General Fund

At the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 2018, Attorney General Herring transferred $4,462,269.71 to the Commonwealth’s General Fund.  This money was recovered by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section while enforcing antitrust and consumer protection laws.  Since 2014, the Consumer Protection Section has transferred more than $33 million to the General Fund.

 

Are You the Victim of Identity Theft? Get an Identity Theft Passport

If you have been the victim of identity theft, the Attorney General’s Office can help.  We offer an Identity Theft Passport, which is a card you can carry and present to law enforcement officers.  It is designed to help protect victims from unlawful detainer or arrest for crimes committed by someone else using the victim’s stolen identity.  Read more about the Identity Theft Passport here

 

Attorney General Herring Sues Purdue Pharma Over its Role in the Opioid Crisis

In June, Attorney General Herring filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma alleging it violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act and created a public nuisance by deceptively marketing prescription opioids, including OxyContin.  The suit alleges Purdue misrepresented the risks of addiction and the ease in preventing it, the potential benefits of opioids especially as related to other non-opioid pain relief, and the effectiveness of opioids in offering treatment and relief for chronic pain.  Since 2007, 8,000 Virginians have died from an opioid overdose, including 5,000 from a prescription opioid overdose.  The suit was filed in Tazewell County where the rate of fatal prescription drug overdoses is more than four times the state average.  Read more about the suit here

Virginia Joins Nationwide Sweep to Crack Down on Deceptive Veterans Charities

In July, Attorney General Herring announced enforcement actions against two deceptive charitable organizations as part of “Operation Donate with Honor," a joint effort by Virginia, other states, and the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on fraudulent charities that falsely claim to benefit veterans and service members. In one action, Attorney General Herring's Consumer Protection Section sued Hearts 2 Heroes, a for-profit company doing business under the name Active Duty Support Services Inc., for deceptive practices in selling “care packages" that supposedly would be sent to service members overseas. In another action, the Consumer Protection Section entered into a settlement with Operation Troop Aid Inc., its president, and 16 other states regarding allegations that the charity used donated funds for purposes other than their solicited purpose and engaged in other deceptive practices. Read more about these enforcement actions here

It’s the Giving Season, Be a Wise Donor!

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and with the holiday giving season around the corner, many generous Virginians will make donations to worthy causes.  While there are many legitimate charities, there are also many con artists that will try to take advantage of your generosity.  Remember these 10 tips when considering a charitable donation:

  • Give to charities you know and trust with a proven track record.
  • Beware of “copy-cat” names that sound like reputable charities.
  • Be especially cautious if you did not initiate the contact with the charity.
  • Do not be pressured into giving. Legitimate organizations will not expect you to contribute immediately.
  • Ask for written information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number. Legitimate organizations will give you materials about the charity’s mission, how your donation will be used, and proof that your contribution is tax-deductible.
  • Ask how much of your donation will go to the cause.
  • Do not donate cash or use a wire transfer. Make checks payable to the charitable organization and not to an individual collecting a donation. For security and tax record purposes, you may wish to pay by credit card.
  • If contributing over the Internet, be sure the web site you are visiting belongs to the charity to which you want to donate.
  • Verify the charity’s registration with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Charitable and Regulatory Programs (“OCRP”) at (804) 786-1343, or by searching OCRP’s Charitable Organization Database online: http://cos.va-vdacs.com/cgi-bin/char_search.cgi
  • While a legitimate charity should be registered with OCRP to solicit contributions in Virginia, registration alone does not mean that the organization will be effective in using your donation.

 

Fighting Consumer Fraud & Identity Theft in Virginia

In September, the Virginia Attorney General’s Office teamed up with the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to present a webinar on the top scams reported in Virginia as well as tips for Virginia consumers to avoid scams, protect their identities, and recover from identity theft.  Review slides from the presentation here

During a Declared State of Emergency, Report Unlawful Price Gouging

The declaration of a state of emergency triggers Virginia’s anti-price gouging law, which is designed to protect consumers from paying exorbitant prices for necessities during an emergency.  The law prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for “necessary goods and services” during the thirty-day period following a declared state of emergency. Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to: water, ice, food, generators, batteries, lodging, home repair materials and services, and tree removal services.  Suspected price gouging should be reported for investigation to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section, with the exception of claims related to gasoline and motor fuel prices, which are handled by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.   Access price-gouging complaint forms here

 

Attorney General Herring Returns $72,000 to Virginia Homeowners Defrauded by Sea-Thru Windows

In August, Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section sent checks totaling $72,258.54 to 70 homeowners who were victims of Sea-Thru Windows, Inc., a Virginia Beach-based window seller and installer.  Earlier this year, the Consumer Protection Section obtained a permanent injunction and judgment against Sea-Thru Windows and its president and sole owner, Jeffery C. Pesich, for taking customers’ money without providing the promised services.  The judgment enabled the Attorney General’s Office to recover funds for the consumer victims from the Contractor Transaction Recovery Fund.  Read more about the suit here 

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