West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office is suing a Virginia title lender over its debt collection practices.
The lawsuit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court seeks a permanent injunction against Fast Auto Loans Inc., its Atlanta-based owner, Community Loans of America Inc., and Robert I. Reich, president and CEO of both firms. Reich could not be reached for comment.
The suit accuses Fast Auto Loans of violating several state consumer protection laws. It says the company made unlawful threats of criminal prosecution in an attempt to collect debts, charged excessive interest rates on loans made against car titles, and failed to follow the law in seizing consumers' vehicles. Car title loans are banned in West Virginia.
Fast Auto Loans operates a branch office in Wytheville, W. Va., according to a press release from McGraw's office. Many of the alleged victims are residents of the state.
The release cites one particular case of a Mercer County resident, Charles Haun of Princeton, who found that the $400 he borrowed from Fast Auto Loans in Wytheville, quickly turned into a much higher amount through phantom fees and the company's failure to disclose its true percentage rate.
Even though the company initially insisted such actions were not their policy, FAL repeatedly made collection calls to several family members, friends and co-workers if Mr. Haun was even one day late on a payment, according to the press release.