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CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed a complaint asking the court to block a New York-based collection agency from doing business in the Mountain State, according to a news release.

The Attorney General’s complaint, filed Thursday in Mingo County Circuit Court, alleges Bayside Capital Services, LLC, and its owner, John Max Werth, engaged in the business of debt collection without proper licensing and by using unlawful, high-pressure tactics.

“Unlawful debt collection activity exacerbates the stress facing consumers,” Morrisey said. “Our office will ensure that anyone collecting debts in West Virginia is properly licensed and operating within state law.”

The lawsuit alleges Bayside contacted consumers at their workplaces and threatened to arrest those who didn’t pay.

The lawsuit stems from a consumer complaint out of Mason County. Further investigation revealed similar allegations in Nicholas, Randolph and Mingo counties.

The lawsuit alleges that Bayside disclosed that it collected payments on 12 accounts from consumers residing in Cabell, Jefferson, Kanawha, Marshall, Mason, Mingo, Nicholas, Randolph, Wayne and Wood counties. The company did not disclose the number of persons it contacted without successful collection.

The lawsuit further alleges that Bayside failed to notify consumers of their right to dispute debts within five days after the first debt collection contact, demanded payment in full before the 30-day dispute period expired and demanded payment without any proof of the alleged debt.

The complaint seeks civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each alleged violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act, restitution and a court order prohibiting Bayside from collecting debts in West Virginia.

Read a copy of the civil complaint at https://bit.ly/3hXwvhi.

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