CHARLESTON, W. Va. (Legal Newsline) - Nearly 300 West Virginia consumers received a collection letter from Riddle & Associates, threatening to add attorneys fees and collection costs unless their DirecTV accounts were promptly paid in full.
But Riddle had previously promised to end this unlawful collection practice in a 2004 settlement agreement with Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office.
In response to McGraw's new investigation, Riddle said the new letter was sent in error to 292 West Virginia consumers and that the error was corrected as soon as it was discovered.
Still, McGraw's office asked Riddle to sign a new agreement promising again to refrain from using the objectionable collection letter in West Virginia and Riddle agreed. Riddle also agreed to pay $5,000 to the State of West Virginia and to permanently refrain from collecting DirecTV accounts in West Virginia.
Although DirecTV was not aware of the objectionable letter, DirecTV agreed to close the accounts with a zero balance of all persons who received the letter. As a result of this action, 292 West Virginia consumers were relieved of more than $58,000 in alleged debt.
"Although we accept Riddle's explanation that the letter was sent in error, it was still necessary to require Riddle to take additional measures to insure continued compliance with state and federal debt collection law in the future," McGraw said in a statement. "I am satisfied that the actions taken by Riddle and DirecTV have resolved the concerns of my office about the West Virginia consumers who received the objectionable letter.
"We would like to thank DirecTV for its cooperative efforts in agreeing to erase the debt of all consumers who received the Riddle letter."