Consumer Protection Quarterly Newsletter

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Consumer Protection Newsletter

Spring 2018

Attorney General Herring Warns Consumers About iTunes Gift Cards Scams and Other Frauds During National Consumer Protection Week

Earlier this month, Attorney General Herring cautioned consumers about scam artists demanding payment via an iTunes gift card or another prepaid card to pay for some product or service or to resolve some fabricated issue or debt. No legitimate company or government agency will demand payment via an iTunes card or a prepaid card. Once those cards are transferred, they are nearly impossible to recover.  Read more about this and other scams here . . .

 

Watch Out for Unlicensed Contractors 

Spring is a great time for home construction and repair projects. We receive a lot of complaints about unlicensed contractors. Remember these tips when hiring a contractor:

  • Hire only licensed contractors.
  • Verify the contractor’s license status and check on any complaints with the Board for Contractors at http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup
    or call (804) 367-8511.
  • Get referrals from friends, neighbors or co-workers.
  • Check references and look at past work.
  • Get written estimates from at least three contractors.
  • Don’t automatically choose the lowest bid. Ask for an explanation of price differences.
  • Get a signed contract that includes start and completion dates, payment schedule, all materials needed, any promises or warranties.
  • Limit any down payment.
  • Don’t pay cash.
  • Don’t pay in full before all work is complete to your satisfaction.
  • Keep all paperwork.
  • You have three days to cancel most sales made at your home. If you have second thoughts, consider exercising this right.

 

Attorney General Herring Sues “Pension Sale” Companies for High-Cost Illegal Loans that Targeted Retired Veterans and Government Employees

The Consumer Protection Section’s Predatory Lending Unit sued Future Income Payments, LLC, FIP, LLC, and their owner for allegedly making illegal loans carrying annual interest rates as high as 183% and for lending practices that violated the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The suit alleges the business targeted Virginia pensioners – often elderly veterans with military pensions and public servants with pensions through the Virginia Retirement System – with illegal loans disguised as “sales” that could provide a quick lump sum of cash. It is believed the company made more than 950 illegal loans to at least 650 pensioners in Virginia.  Read more about the suit here . . .

Consumer Protections for Veterans and Military Families

As part of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Herring encouraged Virginia veterans and military families to familiarize themselves with the special consumer protections in state and federal law that may protect them and their families from fraud, scams, predatory lending, and abusive business practices. Veterans and military families are often targeted by scammers and unscrupulous businesses because they have a consistent income and can often be called away from home for long periods of time.  Read more about the special protections available to military personnel and the actions Attorney General Herring has taken to taken to protect them here . . .   

What Happens to Your Consumer Complaint?

  • We will review your complaint and contact you if anything is missing.
  • If your complaint is not something we handle, we will let you know and forward it to the right agency.
  • We offer alternative dispute resolution services for complaints that do not appear to involve a violation of consumer protection law. This is a voluntary process.
  • We will act as a neutral in facilitating communication between you and the business in an attempt to resolve the complaint.
  • We typically send complaints we handle to the business for its response, and we ask consumers to respond to the business’s position.
  • If a mutually agreeable resolution cannot be reached, we may provide information regarding other options available to you.
  • Where a complaint appears to involve a violation of consumer protection law, the matter may be reviewed to determine if there is a pattern or practice of violations warranting a possible law enforcement action.
  • Your complaint and copies of related correspondence will be retained in accordance with the applicable state records retention schedule.
  • Closed complaints are subject to public disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Covered in this Edition: 

Scam Warning During National Consumer Protection Week


Top 10 Consumer Complaints
What Happens to Your Consumer Complaint
Watch Out For Unlicensed Contractors
Herring Sues "Pension Sale" Companies For Illegal Loans Targeting Veterans and Government Employees

VA Consumers to Receive $2.7 Million in Relief From Settlement With Internet Lender


AG Herring Secures Judgment Against Virginia Beach-Based Sea-Thru Windows


Consumer Protections for Veterans and Military Families

 

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Top 10 Consumer Complaints

Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section serves as the central clearinghouse in Virginia for consumer complaints. In 2017, the Section received approximately 4,000 complaints.  Below are the Top 10 complaint categories for 2017.  You can click on each category for the agency that is most likely to handle those complaints.

  1. Auto Sales
  2. Credit, Loans &Debt Collection
  3. Home Improvement, Service & Repair
  4. Internet Sales & Service
  5. Auto Service & Repair
  6. Direct Sales
  7. Medical/Health Professions
  8. Retail Stores
  9. Education Services
  10. Timeshares

Virginia Consumers to Receive $2.7 Million in Relief from Settlement with Internet Lender

In February, Attorney General Herring announced the Predatory Lending Unit obtained more than $2.7 million in debt relief for Virginia consumers who took out loans with Internet lender MoneyLion of Virginia LLC, an affiliate of New York based Internet lender MoneyLion, Inc. The settlement will provide refunds and debt forgiveness to 3,800 consumers as a result of the company’s alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Read more about the settlement here . . .

Attorney General Herring Secures Judgment Against Virginia Beach-Based Sea-Thru Windows for Defrauding Homeowners

Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section obtained a permanent injunction and restitution order against Sea-Thru Windows, Inc., a Virginia Beach-based window seller and installer, and its President and sole owner, Jeffery C. Pesich, for taking tens of thousands of dollars of customers’ money in violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. The court order bars further violations of the law, orders nearly $150,000 in restitution to sixty-four identified customers, and imposes fines and attorney’s fees totaling $110,000.  Read more about the judgment here . . .

 
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