AG office’s Consumer Protection Section has recovered $403M since 2014


Source: site

The Office of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $403 million in relief for consumers and payments for violators since the beginning of Mark Herring’s first term in 2014.

“My Consumer Protection Section continues to do incredible work to help return the hundreds of millions of dollars Virginians have lost to predatory lenders, shady debt collectors, and other bad actors and shady businesses who try to skirt the law,” Attorney General Mark Herring said. “One of my top priorities as attorney general will always be to make sure that Virginia consumers are protected and to provide them with the information and tools that they need to make good decisions and protect themselves and their families.”

Below is a breakdown of the $403 million:

  • $73,989,438 in civil penalties and attorneys’ fees recovered
  • $69,941,796 in restitution recovered
  • $259,272,521 in collection forbearance or debt forgiveness

The Virginia attorney general has significant consumer responsibilities as the primary investigator and enforcer of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. In 2016, Herring completed a major restructuring and expansion of his Consumer Protection Section to ensure it aggressively enforces Virginia’s consumer protection laws, provides exceptional customer service in resolving complaints and disputes, and provides robust consumer education to keep Virginians from being victimized by fraud, scams, or illegal or abusive business practices.

Virginians who have a question, concern, or complaint about a consumer matter should contact the Consumer Protection Section:

The Consumer Protection Section is organized into five units and an investigative team that work collaboratively to protect the interests of Virginia consumers:

  • Dispute Resolution Unit, which offers dispute resolution services to individual consumers and businesses to assist them in resolving consumer complaints. The Dispute Resolution Unit can serve as a neutral facilitator and point of contact between consumers and businesses as all parties voluntarily work towards a mutually agreeable outcome. Since 2014, the Dispute Resolution Unit and Section investigators have resolved or closed approximately 25,000 consumer complaints and recovered over $7 million for consumers.
  • Counseling, Intake, and Referral Unit, which serves as the central clearinghouse in Virginia for the receipt, evaluation, and referral of consumer complaints, and operates the state’s consumer protection hotline. Since 2014, the Counseling, Intake, and Referral Unit has received more than 195,500 calls through the consumer complaint hotline and received approximately 30,500 written consumer complaints and approximately 22,900 emails and letters.
  • Predatory Lending Unit, which is a first-of-its-kind unit to investigate and prosecute suspected violations of state and federal consumer lending statutes, including laws concerning payday loans, title loans, consumer finance loans, student loans, mortgage loans, and more.
  • Charitable Solicitations and Deceptive Conduct Unit, which investigates and prosecutes suspected violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act, the Virginia Solicitation of Contributions law, and other state and federal consumer protection laws.
  • Antitrust Unit, which investigates and prosecutes suspected violations of state and federal antitrust laws, including large mergers that could hurt consumers through reduced competition and choice.

The reorganization also included the creation of a user-friendly website and a more useful consumer complaint database that allows users to vet businesses by searching company name, industry, or complaint topic within a specified geographic area.

Search results now include the date of the filed complaint, the nature of the complaint, and a description of the resolution, if available.