CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Attorney General's Office is suing a company for trying to collect on debt that many West Virginians didn't even owe.
Attorney General Darrell McGraw says Midland Funding, LLC is using false affidavits and getting default judgments against consumers.
Midland is one of the nation's largest debt buyers having purchased $54.7 billion in old consumer debt, according to the Attorney General's office. Midland buys debt that has been charged-off by the original creditor, usually old credit card debt for roughly three cents on the dollar or $3.00 for every $100 of debt it purchases.
The Attorney General's office says it's a major case of fraud when they try to collect without proof that you owe money in the first place.
"I never had a credit card and they said I owed $4,000 and it's going up, up, up," Karon McGrew said. "I didn't even know this company."
Karon McGrew has had a rough year, losing her husband and then finding out she had a major hit to her credit. She tried to get a new home loan and was denied after she discovered Midland filed a judgment against her.
"They're unchallenged, they don't have to prove really anything other than the documentation they've provided which can be sloppy or inaccurate," Assistant Attorney General Matthew Stonestreet said. "Then they get those judgments and a lot of times they'll collect on it ultimately."
When McGrew asked for proof of her debt, Midland couldn't provide account statements, charge slips or signed contracts.
They're getting people who don't owe these debts," Stonestreet said. "That's the kind of abuse we're trying to stop here."
For Charles Burford, he began getting repeated, unexpected harassing phone calls. On the other end, a representative from Midland Funding making demands to pay up.
"I asked them to quit calling me and they were very persistent and he was very belligerent," Charles Burford said. "It's sad that a company can do these sorts of things."
Burford says he was hounded by debt buyers for charges he didn't even owe. As soon as Burford filed a complaint against Midland, the company claimed it made a mistake.
"I apologize for the inconvenience caused to Mr. Burford," a letter to the Attorney General read.
The Attorney General is now turning the page a suing the company that's made it its business to file false suits against so many who didn't owe a debt.
"I just want to go on you know," McGrew said. "I can't go on unless I get rid of this."
McGrew added, "I think this company is trying to rip off people maybe seniors or maybe widows, you know."
The Attorney General's Office says many people are frightened or unaware of their rights when they're falsely sued. As a result, they don't respond to the lawsuits properly.
If you do know your rights, the Attorney General's Office says usually companies like Midland will drop those lawsuits.
If you think you've been victimized by debt buyers, call the West Virginia Attorney General's Office at 304-558-8986 or visit www.wvago.gov for more information.