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Attorney General's Office Says Settlements Reached In WV Scams

Reported by: Send eMail Stefano DiPietrantonio
Reported: Jun. 17, 2014 11:30 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 18, 2014 10:36 AM EDT
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WV Scam Settlements
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Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia

Two different scams involving loan abuse and shady lending are settled in West Virginia. Millions of dollars should be coming back to West Virginians

"We think it's important that people be licensed to do things the right way," West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said.

In a commercial, the law firm of Legal Helpers Debt Resolution said it "now offers multiple, affordable solutions to help you eliminate debt."

The Attorney General's Office lawsuit alleged Legal Helpers Debt Resolution LLC violated state consumer laws, with consumers paying fees to the company, but the debt was never negotiated or settled.

"We stepped in because there were a couple of individuals who were not licensed to practice law in the state of West Virginia, and quite frankly, they made some promises that they didn't keep," Morrisey said.

Morrisey said Legal Helpers will pay the state $135,000 -- $50,000 of which will go back to the consumers.

"We are going to enforce our consumer protection laws vigorously,” Morrisey said. “We are going to make sure the people that are engaged in legitimate debt collection or debt assistance are doing so according to the laws of the state of West Virginia."

The number of female victims in these scams also is growing. The women of Generation X are making more financial decisions than ever before.

"These women are busy. Generation X are dealing with children, aging parents, a job," said Suzanna De Baca with Ameriprise Financial. "they're more likely to experience divorce or unemployment."

Many women may turn to debt relief, especially when it sounds so promising.

Morrisey offered some tips for consumers. He recommends doing your homework before you sign with any debt relief company. If you have any questions, call the West Virginia Attorney General's Office if you have any questions. The office can tell you if the company you're considering might have been in trouble before.

"This settlement, along with our settlement last week with the drug company, is just evidence that we're looking across the board -- small, medium, large companies. We're going to be vigorous in protecting our consumers for any company that does not respect our laws," Morrisey said.

Also late Tuesday, Morrisey said West Virginia is part of a multi-state, $550-million settlement with Sun Trust Mortgage, citing mortgage and foreclosure abuses.

More than 180 West Virginia borrowers, whose loans were serviced by Sun Trust and who lost their home to foreclosure between 2008 and 2013, will be eligible for a payment from a national $40 million fund.



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