CHARLESTON —West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office recently sent letters to more than 300 consumers explaining how they will benefit from approximately $1.49 million in debt cancellation secured as part of a settlement with First Sentinel Bank of Richlands, Va.

The settlement resolves allegations that First Sentinel Bank violated state and federal laws, which prohibit banks, debt collectors and other entities from engaging in unfair, deceptive or abusive practices.

“Banks and debt collectors must conduct business in a lawful manner,” Morrisey said. “The unlawful use of intimidation tactics to collect debts or repossess vehicles cannot be tolerated. This applies to every business as well as third-party vendors hired on the company’s behalf.”

The AG’s office alleged First Sentinel Bank representatives frequently visited consumers at their homes or places of employment to collect debts, a practice generally viewed as unlawful. The office also alleged the bank repossessed vehicles without its vendors having a state business license to do so.

First Sentinel Bank admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

The settlement requires First Sentinel Bank close accounts with a zero balance for all West Virginia consumers whose vehicles were unlawfully repossessed. It is estimated such action will amount to $1.49 million for 323 consumers.

It further requires First Sentinel Bank pay the state $27,400, as well as $2,500 to a Mercer County resident who brought the initial complaint.