The Attorney General of West Virginia has filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to fine a New York collection agency for operating in the state without a license as well as ban the company from collecting debts in the Mountain State. The suit was filed after the company signed an agreement with the AG’s office where it promised to comply with all laws, refund consumers of payments that were made, and pay a fine — a settlement on which the company allegedly reneged, according to the complaint.
A copy of the complaint, filed by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey against Bayside Capital Services and John Max Werth, can be accessed by clicking here.
The company purchases and collects on defaulted consumer accounts, but does not have a license to collect in West Virginia, according to the complaint. The company is also accused of violating the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act by failing to notify consumers of their right to dispute debts, demanding payment in full before the expiration of the 30-day dispute period, contacting consumers at their place of employment after requests had been made to cease such contact, threatening arrest or criminal prosecution if debts were not paid, and making unannounced visits to consumers at their homes to demand payment.
“Unlawful debt collection activity exacerbates the stress facing consumers,” Attorney General Morrisey said, in a statement. “Our office will ensure that anyone collecting debts in West Virginia is properly licensed and operating within state law.”
All it took was one consumer complaint for the Attorney General to open its investigation, which revealed that the company collected $6,367.84 in payments on 12 accounts from consumers in 10 different counties across the state.
Along with seeking a court order prohibiting the company from collecting debts in West Virginia, the complaint is also seeking fines of up to $5,000 for each alleged violation of the WVCCPA.
The company is believed to be “an empty shell” that has no office or assets other than Werth’s personal residence and a private mail box located inside a UPS store in Buffalo, according to the complaint.