Attorney General Darrell McGraw announced today that Virginia-based Fast Auto Loans, Inc. was ordered to stop collecting payments, seizing vehicles, and entering into new loans with West Virginia residents until a hearing on August 24, 2012. The Order, entered on July 3, by the Honorable David H. Sanders, Judge, Circuit Court of Jefferson County, also requires the defendants, Fast Auto Loans, its parent company, Community Loans of America, and their owner, Robert I. Reich, to produce all records of their loans to West Virginia consumers, including records of their marketing activities, to McGraw’s office within 30 days.
The Order was prompted by the filing of a suit by McGraw’s Consumer Protection Division against the defendants on June 14 seeking to prohibit them from victimizing West Virginia consumers who travel to Virginia to obtain “title loans,” which are not legal in West Virginia. The loans in question charge interest rates of 300% APR and are secured by titles to motor vehicles registered in West Virginia. Consumers’ vehicles are seized when they default on the loans.
In his lawsuit, McGraw alleged that the defendants engaged in a wide range of unlawful debt collection activities and other unfair or deceptive practices, including repeated telephone harassment, disclosure of debts to employers and other third parties, and false threats of arrest or criminal prosecution to force consumers to relinquish possession of their vehicles without a court order.
Records obtained from the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles indicate that Fast Auto Loans secured liens on over 500 loans and most of the West Virginia victims reside in Berkeley, Hampshire, Jefferson, Mercer and McDowell counties, which are close to Fast Auto Loans’ Winchester and Wytheville, Virginia branch offices. A copy of the Order entered by the Court may be obtained by visiting this link: http://www.wvago.gov/pdf/ag_order_fastautoloan.pdf.
Consumers who have complaints about Fast Auto Loans or other consumer matters should contact Attorney General Darrell McGraw’s consumer protection hotline at 1-800-368-8808. To report a scam or file a complaint, West Virginians can also reach the Attorney General’s Office online at www.wvago.gov. For regular consumer news updates and tips, follow “AGWestV” on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Read the full story at Office of the West Virginia Attorney General – Press Releases.