September 19, 2021

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West Virginia consumers wary of bill that could strip them of legal protections and right to counsel | WDVM25 & DCW50

BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. (WDVM) – Consumers are carefully following a West Virginia bill that removes protections from debt collection practices.

Consumer advocates say the bill would allow scammers to use abusive tactics such as: B. Threatening prison sentences, taking a lien on your home if it is illegal, or getting a loan granted through a stolen identity. Consumers are demanding the right to legal representation by non-profit groups such as the judiciary of the mountain states.

“You can go to trial,” said Larry Hale of Gerrardstown. “You can have a lawyer appointed. But if you go to a civil court, you can’t find a lawyer even if you are right if you can’t afford a lawyer. “

In Hale’s case, he was sued for mailing his mortgage payment to a lender address that had changed. The company prosecuted him in court. Fortunately, he was able to get legal help from Mountain State Justice. Others, he says, are not so lucky, however.

“Since we have a steady income and social security, things are pretty tight and we have been really blessed to have the mountain state justice system helped us,” said Hale.

Hale is among those consumers in the mountain state who fear that lawmakers are legitimizing fraud, deception, harassment and total violations of the law in the debt collection process.

The legislature concludes its session next month. In the meantime, consumers are battling the proposed bill that limits penalties against abusive collection tactics.