Cumberland Times-News

Local News

July 30, 2013

Romney hospital, company end unlawful debt collection practices

State discovers that more than 11,000 consumers signed forms

ROMNEY, W.Va. —  Hampshire Memorial Hospital and Mosaic Finance Solutions will each pay the state $7,500 as part of an agreement, called an assurance of discontinuance, to end unlawful debt collection practices, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced Tuesday.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division began investigating Hampshire Memorial and Mosaic after learning that the hospital required consumers to sign a consent form subjecting them to certain collection practices if their accounts became delinquent. The hospital allegedly required patients to sign the form as a condition of receiving medical care.

“Catastrophic medical bills sometimes push consumers already facing difficult circumstances over a financial cliff,” Morrisey said. “My office will remain vigilant to ensure that only lawful means are used to collect legitimate debts and that all companies collecting debts in West Virginia are properly licensed to do so.”

The investigation discovered 11,541 West Virginia consumers signed the form, which required them to agree to several conditions, including:

• Waiving their homestead exemption.

• Allowing their account to be subject to an interest charge of 7 percent on the unpaid balance.

• Being liable for Hampshire Memorial’s attorney fees of 25 percent of the balance due plus collection expenses.

• Receiving autodialed and prerecorded debt collections messages on their cell phones.

 According to the investigation, Hampshire Memorial Hospital employed Mosaic, a North Carolina company that was not licensed to collect debt in West Virginia at the time, to pressure consumers with delinquent accounts to sign credit agreements that converted the hospital account into a debt that accrued interest at the rate of 7 percent per month.  Records disclosed by Mosaic indicated that 277 West Virginia consumers had signed the credit agreements.

“Mosaic did become licensed to collect debts in West Virginia after our office became involved,” Morrisey said. “But the company has signed the assurance as a promise to refrain from certain other unlawful debt collection tactics it engaged in as well.”

In addition to promising to end the alleged unlawful practices, Hampshire Memorial Hospital and Mosaic each agreed to pay $7,500 to the State of West Virginia that may be used by the Attorney General for a variety of consumer protection purposes or be held for appropriation by the Legislature.

In an assurance of discontinuance, a business owner assures the state in writing that neither he nor his company will engage in conduct that has been deemed as questionable in the future. Businesses enter into the assurances voluntarily, and they are not an admission that the business violated any laws.

Anyone who believes that he may have been a victim of an unfair or deceptive practice in the sale or financing of consumer goods or services may file a complaint by calling the Attorney General’s office at 304-558-8986 or 800-368-8808.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Firefighters making progress in Wills Mountain wildfire

    Active fire operations in the Wills Mountain fire were concluded by day’s end Thursday, according to Glen Bell, public information officer of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry.

    April 24, 2014

  • Alexis Carr Three Keyser High scholar-athletes vye for Church award

    Keyser High School seniors Alexis Marie Carr, Hayley Foster and Kathryn L. Tasker are the 2014 nominees for the 23rd Katharine Church Award.

    April 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Tour of excellence Tour of excellence

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • W.Va. Supreme Court reinstates man’s murder convictions

    The West Virginia Supreme Court has reinstated a man’s first-degree murder convictions for the 1982 slayings of two people in Marion County, ruling that a lower court erred when it granted him a new trial.

    April 24, 2014

  • Major oil and gas firm to list fracking chemicals

    A major supplier to the oil and gas industry says it will begin disclosing 100 percent of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid, with no exemptions for trade secrets. The move by Baker Hughes of Houston is a shift for a major firm; it’s unclear if others will follow suit.

    April 24, 2014

  • Stickley receives Mineral schools service personnel of year award

    David Stickley, an electrician in the maintenance department at Mineral County schools, has been selected as Mineral County’s 2014 Service Personnel of the Year. 

    April 24, 2014

  • Prescription drug take back day Saturday across state

    The Maryland State Police, in partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration, are asking citizens to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs during the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. statewide.

    April 24, 2014

  • 43-year-old receives prison time for molesting his niece

    CUMBERLAND — A 43-year-old city man was sentenced Wednesday to a 10-year prison term for the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Allegany County.

    April 24, 2014

  • House of cards House of cards

    Sixth-graders James Patalinghug, left, and Nina Cutter build a multilevel tower out of index cards Tuesday afternoon at Washington Middle School. The activity was part of a science, technology, engineering, math, known as STEM, lesson designed to teach students about load distribution, friction and gravity.
     

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • CORY ORNDORFF Green Spring man sentenced to 40 years for toddler’s death

    ROMNEY, W.Va. — Hampshire County Circuit Court Judge H. Charles Carl III sentenced 22-year-old Cory A. Orndorff of Green Spring to 40 years in prison for one count of child abuse resulting in the death of an 18-month-old child Wednesday morning.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Must Read
News related video