West Virginia Consumer Collection Practices Act (“WVCCPA”) now allows creditors and debt collectors a 45-day opportunity to cure an alleged violation before a consumer may file a lawsuit.
Before prosecuting a claimed violation, a consumer must notify the creditor or collector of the violation. The notice must clearly state that the consumer is claiming violations of the WVCCPA and include facts that substantiate the allegation.
The notice provision isn’t simply a perfunctory “paper hurdle,” and there are real defenses available to debt collectors under the revised law. If the collector offers a cure and the consumer accepts, the court must dismiss the suit. If the consumer sues after acceptance and completion of a cure, the collector can recover attorneys’ fees for defending the action.
Collectors may also use an offer to cure to limit their exposure. If the court ultimately awards the consumer less than the cure offered, the collector is not liable for the consumer’s attorneys’ fees or costs. The new amendment also limits a consumer’s statutory damages to $1,000 per violation, although consumers may still recover any actual damages.
This new law is similar to statutes in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Mass., Ohio, Texas, and Virginia, and should serve as good news to creditors and collectors defending claims in West Virginia.