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Debt Collection Laws in West Virginia

Dena Standley | July 28, 2023

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Summary: West Virginia laws are designed to protect consumers by keeping debt collectors accountable. Under WV and federal law, a debt collector cannot abuse, mistreat, or harass you because you owe them money. SoloSuit can help you stand up for your rights before, during, and even after a debt lawsuit occurs.

Has this ever happened to you? You open your email to look for an urgent message, and you are met with an endless list of unread messages from a debt collector. It is so annoying because you have to spend extra minutes skimming through them to find the specific email and hoping you won't miss it. Thankfully, you find it, but this experience has occurred several times, and it needs to stop.

The good news is that West Virginia can help you fight for your rights and stop the unending harassment by debt collectors. West Virginia debt collection laws cover various issues such as when, how, and for how long debt collectors can follow you up for debt. It also states how much they can take from your wages if they get a garnishment order. However, it is possible to avoid getting to this stage by responding to the initial debt collection lawsuit with a written Answer.

In the next section, SoloSuit will explain crucial West Virginia debt collection laws and the action you can take when debt collectors violate your rights.

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What laws protect consumers from debt collectors in West Virginia?

West Virginia uses state (Chapter 46A Article 2) and federal laws to protect its consumers from unfair debt collection practices. These laws come with penalties, and debt collectors risk losing their operating license or being fined huge damage fees if the case is a class action. The following are the common laws that most debt collectors are likely to violate in West Virginia.

Debt collectors cannot use any fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading practices

West Virginia law, specifically WV Code §46A-2-127, states that debt collectors should not deceive, mislead, or perform fraudulent activities when collecting and attempting to collect a debt. Examples of these bad business practices include:

  • Refusal to give their true name and hide behind the company’s name.
  • Falsely claiming that they have sensitive information about you or something valuable to force them to pay.
  • Making false accusations or misrepresenting your debt information or character during a court proceeding.
  • Saying they will increase your overall debt amount by adding service, attorney, or investigation fees.

Deceptive or oppressive communication is prohibited

According to state and federal laws (15 USC §14V,1692c), debt collectors are prevented from communicating with consumers in the following ways:

  • Calling countless times a day for the same debt
  • Leaving endless emails or voicemails
  • Continuing to contact you without verifying the debt
  • Communicating with someone else about the debt apart from you

Debt collectors must comply with debt validation laws

West Virginia debt collection laws expect the creditor to send a written notice giving more information about the debt. They should do this within five days of the first contact or immediately after you send a Debt Validation Letter. Further, the notice should contain the following information:

  • Original creditor's full names
  • A breakdown of the debt information
  • A statement clearly stating you can dispute the debt
  • A sentence saying they will send more debt information if you require it
  • Another statement that says the debt will become valid if you do not respond in 30 days

West Virginia sets a limit on wage garnishment amounts

Section §46A-2-130 of the West Virginia Code also controls, monitors, and limits how a debt collector should execute the garnishment opportunity awarded by the court. The regulations state that:

  • Debt collectors can only garnish 20% of your income or amount that exceeds 50 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hr).
  • A debtor can ask the court to reduce or eliminate the garnishment order if it will cause severe hardship to them and their household.
  • A debt collector cannot ask the court to prioritize their debt over vital garnishment orders such as a child or spousal support.

Let’s take a closer look at an example of West Virginia wage garnishment laws in action:

Example: Kennedy had previously ignored Middle Credit's attempts to collect his debt of $985. Unfortunately, Middel Credit sued him, and they received a default judgment because he did not send an Answer. Middle Credit further requested a garnishment order, and they got one to garnish $98 weekly. However, Kennedy already had a child support garnishment order, and when subtracted, he fell below the federal poverty line. If MC's garnishment order remains, it will cause significant financial hardship. On filing for objection, the court followed the West Virginia Code, saying that child support comes before debt. Secondly, Kennedy’s wages did not meet the standard amount for garnishment after the child support subtraction.

How does the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protect consumers?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act safeguards consumers' rights by supporting state laws and offering other debt collection laws. These laws are similar to the state laws, with minimal variation in some provisions. For example, the FDCPA does not have a specific number for the statute of limitation on debt but refers consumers to their state laws to find out. West Virginia's statute of limitation on debt is ten years for credit card debt, four years for auto loans, and five years for open accounts.

Steps to take after a debt collector violates your rights

After reading these laws, you may feel empowered to fight for your rights the next time debt collectors contact you. Once you make them aware of your rights, they will be extra careful. Here are the steps to take when a debt collector violates your rights.

  1. Keep a record of every time the creditor communicates with you. Document the time, how they speak to you, and what they say that is questionable.
  2. Contact them after compiling your evidence and request them to stop the violation or amend any errors made. If they listen and act, you can stop the process here, but if they fail to do so, then proceed to step three.
  3. Submit a complaint to the West Virginia attorney general's office, Better Business, Bureau platform, or the Fair Trade Commission. The concerned department will contact the debt collector, asking them to respond.
  4. Dispute the debt with the three main credit bureaus if the issue is that the debt figures are inaccurate. They will investigate the matter and get back to you in 30 days.
  5. File a lawsuit if all the above methods fail to work. Before filing, ensure you have enough evidence to prove your case before a judge or jury.

SoloSuit can help you deal with debt collectors at any stage of the collection process. We can help you stop their calls, Answer the lawsuit letter, force a debt collection case out of court, and settle the debt with our SoloSettle program and software. Talk to us today for more details.

For more tips on how to win your debt collection lawsuit, watch our video below:

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