CHARLESTON – West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey filed a complaint asking the court to block a New York-based debt collection agency from doing business in the state of Mountain, according to a press release.
The attorney general’s lawsuit filed in the Mingo County Circuit Court on Thursday alleges that Bayside Capital Services, LLC, and its owner, John Max Werth, were collecting debt without proper licensing and using unlawful high pressure tactics.
“Illegal debt collection activities add to the stress consumers face,” said Morrisey. “Our office will ensure that anyone who collects debt in West Virginia is properly licensed and operates under state law.”
The lawsuit alleges that Bayside contacted consumers in their workplaces and threatened to arrest those who did not pay.
The lawsuit stems from a consumer complaint from Mason County. Further investigation revealed similar allegations in Nicholas, Randolph and Mingo counties.
The lawsuit alleges that Bayside announced that it had collected payments from 12 accounts of consumers residing in Cabell, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marshall, Mason, Mingo, Nicholas, Randolph, Wayne and Wood counties. The company did not disclose the number of people it contacted without a successful survey.
The lawsuit also alleges that Bayside failed to notify consumers of their right to contest claims within five days of initial collection contact, requested full payment before the 30-day dispute period expired, and requested payment with no evidence of alleged debt.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties of up to $ 5,000 for each alleged violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, refunds, and a court order prohibiting Bayside from collecting debts in West Virginia.