CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his office recently filed a complaint and petition for preliminary and permanent injunction against a Boone County contractor, alleging the business and its owner violated the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
The complaint, which was filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court, alleges Stiltner Contracting and its owner, Howard Stiltner, Jr., accepted payments from consumers for home improvement projects that were not complete as promised.
“Our Office is committed to protecting West Virginia consumers and defending the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “West Virginians should understand that the Consumer Credit and Protection Act applies to all businesses regardless of their size.”
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said his Office’s Consumer Protection Division began an investigation into Stiltner Construction after receiving a number of complaints from consumers. According to the complaint, the investigation revealed that Stiltner did not complete the work he was paid to do, accepted money for materials while using scraps from previous jobs, and left homeowners with no siding and a mismatched leaking roof.
The complaint asks the court to restrain Stiltner from “engaging in unfair or deceptive acts or practices in contracting services of any kind.” It also seeks restitution for consumers, as well as reimbursements for court costs, investigative costs, and attorney’s fees. The complaint also asks the court to impose a $5,000 fine for each violation of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection act.
“Homeowners should remember not to pay cash up front for the materials on the job,” Morrisey said. “Consumers should also avoid work crews who may try to pressure them into an immediate decision without properly researching the company.”
Consumers who believe they may have been taken advantage of by a contractor should call the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-368-8808 or the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239. Consumers can also file an online complaint at http://www.wvago.gov
• Also, Morrisey is warning business owners of a fraudulent email from the Federal Trade Commission that claims to deal with a “pending consumer complaint.”
The email warns that a complaint against the business has been filed with the FTC and requests that the owner click on a link. Clicking on the link may install malware on a computer that can cause the device to crash. Malware also can be used to monitor and control a person’s online activity, steal his or her personal information, send spam, and commit fraud.
“Sometimes e-mails like this can be very deceiving. This particular email uses an FTC logo, references the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and mentions a formal investigation,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “It’s easy to understand why people might believe these e-mails are legitimate, but the fact is they’re not.”
Morrisey said business owners should follow these safety tips if they receive an email alerting them of a complaint:
• Look for strange phrasing, improper grammar and suspicious sender e-mail addresses; all are good indicators of a spam message.
• Do not click on links embedded in e-mails or respond to the message. If you do click on a link, immediately run a complete virus scan on your computer
Forward the email to email@example.com, and then delete as soon as you do.
“We encourage business owners to call our Consumer Protection Office at 1-800-368-8808 or the FTC directly with questions about any suspicious emails they have received,” said Morrisey.