CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says Northern Panhandle and Ohio Valley residents filed more complaints about debt collection agencies in 2013 than any other topic.

The announcement comes as part of the Office of the Attorney General’s efforts to track the types of complaints that were most prevalent in different regions of the state last year.

The Office looked at written complaints received from residents in six counties that make up the Northern Panhandle and part of the Ohio Valley – Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Tyler, and Wetzel counties. The tally does not include phone calls from consumers who did not follow up with a written complaint.

“On a county-by-county level, complaints about collection agencies were most common in Brooke and Ohio counties, but they were a common complaint for every county in the region,” Morrisey said in a press release. “While we think it is imperative for consumers to pay what they owe, debt collection agencies have to follow very specific laws when trying to recover those payments.

"Agencies and their employees cannot threaten, harass or embarrass consumers in order to get paid.”

Other common complaint areas for residents in the northern part of the state included:

* Cable, Internet, satellite, and/or telephone service;

*Vehicle repairs and purchases;

* Mortgages, loan modifications and/or foreclosures;

* Fake check scams;

* Contests, sweepstakes and promotions; and

* Advertising

Within the six-county region there were substantial differences in the types of consumer complaints filed. For example, the office received more complaints about vehicles from consumers in Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler counties than from their northern neighbors, while Brooke, Hancock and Ohio County consumers filed more complaints about foreclosures, mortgages and/or loan modification.

“We think it is important for people to know the types of complaints arising in their area so they will be better prepared to protect themselves,” Morrisey said. “Fortunately, our Office has a local consumer educator and compliance specialist who can answer questions from consumers or receive complaints."

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