Consumer Protection Quarterly Newsletter

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Consumer Protection Newsletter

Fall 2019

Covered in this Edition: 

Attorney General Herring Sues Teva/Cephalon for Illegal Marketing of Opioids


Herring Sues Sackler Family for Role in Opioid Crisis

Agreement with Phone Companies to Fight Illegal Robocalls


Attorney General Herring Obtains $600 Million Settlement with Equifax over Data Breach


Attorney General Herring Reaches Settlement with Surgical Mesh Manufacturers


Protecting Virginia’s Consumers – A Joint Conference with the FTC


Attorney General Herring Transfers Over $22 Million to General Fund


Attorney General Shuts Down Business Exploiting Service Members


Antitrust Investigations of Google and Facebook


Attorney General Herring Transfers Over $22 Million to General Fund

At the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 2019, Attorney General Herring transferred $22,422,560.38 to the Commonwealth’s General Fund.  This money was recovered primarily by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section while enforcing antitrust and consumer protection laws.  Since 2014, the Consumer Protection Section has transferred approximately $53 million to the General Fund.

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Attorney General Herring Sues Teva/Cephalon for Illegal Marketing of Opioids

On October 31, Attorney General Herring filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and its predecessor, Cephalon, Inc., for alleged violations of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act in connection with deceptively marketing fentanyl – the most potent narcotic currently approved for human use. The suit alleges an unlawful, complex, decades-long campaign to boost sales of the company’s rapid-acting fentanyl drugs for unapproved and unsafe uses while knowingly downplaying the risks of the drugs and overselling their benefits. Read more about the suit here . . .

Herring Sues Sackler Family for Role in Opioid Crisis

In September, Attorney General Herring filed suit against members of the Sackler Family, owners of Purdue Pharma, for their role in creating and perpetuating the opioid crisis, and for fraudulently taking billions of dollars from Purdue Pharma in an attempt to put money beyond the reach of the Commonwealth of Virginia and others who may be entitled to compensation for the unlawful conduct. The filing seeks to add the Sacklers to the Attorney General’s pending lawsuit against Purdue Pharma that was brought in Tazewell County Circuit Court in 2018. Read more about the suit here . . .

Agreement with Phone Companies to Fight Illegal Robocalls

In August, Attorney General Herring and 50 other attorneys general reached an agreement with 12 telephone service providers to combat illegal and unwanted robocalls. Among other commitments, the phone companies will implement call-blocking technology at the network level at no cost to customers; make additional, free, easy-to-use call-blocking and labeling tools available to customers; implement technology to authenticate that calls are coming from a valid source; and monitor their networks for robocall traffic. The phone companies also will assist the attorneys general in their anti-robocall investigations. Read more about the agreement here . . .

Attorney General Herring Obtains $600 Million Settlement with Equifax over Data Breach

In July, Attorney General Herring announced a multistate settlement with Equifax regarding a massive data breach that occurred in 2017. Following an investigation, the states alleged that Equifax’s failure to maintain a reasonable security system enabled hackers to penetrate its systems, exposing the data of 56 percent of American adults. The settlement imposes robust data security and monitoring requirements on the company, gives ten years of credit monitoring for consumers, and provides up to $425 million in consumer restitution. The settlement also required payment of $175 million to the states, including $4,302,173.75 that has been paid to Virginia.  Consumers can visit www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com for more information regarding consumer relief and to file a claim. Read more about the settlement here . . .

Attorney General Herring Reaches Settlement with Surgical Mesh Manufacturers

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section joined 42 other attorneys general in a $116.9 million settlement with Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon, Inc. to resolve allegations that they deceptively marketed and promoted their transvaginal surgical mesh devices. Among other things, the states alleged that the manufacturers misrepresented or failed to adequately disclose the products’ possible side effects. Virginia will receive approximately $3 million under the settlement. Read more about the settlement here . . .

Protecting Virginia’s Consumers – A Joint Conference with the FTC

On October 30, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section hosted a joint Common Ground Conference, “Protecting Virginia’s Consumers,” with the Federal Trade Commission in Chesterfield County. FTC Chairman Joseph Simons and Attorney General Herring provided opening remarks. The conference included panels on: 1) credit and debt issues affecting service members and their families, 2) scams affecting seniors, and 3) student loan debt issues, with speakers from the Attorney General’s Office, the FTC, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, AARP Virginia, and Virginia’s Student Loan Advocate. Conference attendees included representatives from local, state, and federal consumer protection agencies, regulatory agencies, law enforcement, legal aid, private consumer plaintiffs’ attorneys, consumer educators, and other consumer advocates.

 

Attorney General Shuts Down Business Exploiting Service Members

In August, Attorney General Herring obtained a consent judgment against Hearts 2 Heroes Inc., a for-profit company doing business under the name Active Duty Support Services Inc. that made door-to-door sales of “care packages” that supposedly would be sent to service members overseas. As part of the settlement, the business was shut down and the owners have been banned from engaging in charitable solicitations or working for a charitable organization.  The defendants also are required to pay $10,000 in civil penalties to Virginia and three other states that participated in the multistate investigation led by Herring’s Consumer Protection Section. Read more about the case and settlement here . . .

 

 

Antitrust Investigations of Google and Facebook

Attorney General Herring recently announced that his Antitrust Unit is participating in multistate, bipartisan investigations of the business practices of Google and Facebook to examine compliance with state and federal antitrust laws. Read more about the Google investigation here . . . Read more about the Facebook investigation here . . .

 

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