West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw today announced agreements with five out-of-state companies requiring them to pay a total $772,286 in refunds and cancelled debts to settle charges that they engaged in unlawful debt collection within the state.
McGraw opened investigations of the companies after receiving complaints that four of them were not licensed in West Virginia and all five were collecting illegal Internet payday loans. The five companies, the most recent targets of McGraw’s Consumer Protection Division actions against unlawful debt collection, are: Frontier Financial Group, Henderson, NV; United Debt Holding, Castle Rock, CO; Skutr Financial, Las Vegas, NV; USCB Corp., Archibald, PA; and Mauconduit & Luna, Hapeville, GA.
“State laws and regulations governing collection agencies are intended to protect both consumers and legitimate creditors from fraud and abuse,” Attorney General McGraw said. “The Tax Department has made it clear that debt buyers who buy charged-off debts for collection must comply with collection agency laws.”
The settlement actions stemmed from consumer complaints filed against the companies. For example, James Shuff, from Oak Hill, filed a complaint against Frontier Financial. Mr. Shuff says he knew there was a problem when he received a letter from Frontier demanding payment of a $615 debt to Money & More, an Internet payday lender based in California. Because of information previously provided by McGraw’s Consumer Protection Division, Shuff knew that the debt had been canceled and Money & More had been banned from doing business in West Virginia.
McGraw’s investigation revealed that Frontier Financial was both unlicensed and attempting to collect Money & More’s payday debts. Further investigation disclosed that Frontier was primarily collecting debts for two unlicensed debt buyers also named in the settlements, United Debt Holding and Skutr Financial. Those companies were attempting to collect on Internet payday loans, illegal in West Virginia, and charged-off credit card debts.
McGraw’s office later opened investigations of USCB and Mauconduit & Luna. Although licensed to collect debts in West Virginia, USCB was collecting charged-off Internet payday loans that it had purchased from various lenders. Mauconduit & Luna was not licensed to collect debt in the state.
“Internet payday loans are harmful to consumers and have never been legal in West Virginia,” McGraw said. “My office will continue to intervene whenever any agency, licensed or otherwise, is collecting unlawful debts here.”
Read the full story at Office of the West Virginia Attorney General – Press Releases.