Have you been getting endless calls from a mysterious number? When you finally pick up, it’s a representative from a company called Portfolio Recovery Associates. They insist you owe a debt from years ago that you know nothing about. The calls keep coming at all hours of the day and night. You feel frustrated and powerless.
If this scenario sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Let’s walk through what’s happening and how you can protect yourself. This guide will cover:
- Who is Portfolio Recovery Associates?
- Why they are suddenly calling you
- Whether you actually owe the debt
- How to get the calls to stop
- Your rights against harassment
- If PRA is a legitimate collector
- Steps to take control of the situation
Arm yourself with knowledge and take action against unwarranted debt collection practices. You have rights!
Who is Portfolio Recovery Associates?
Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA) is one of the largest debt buyers and collectors in the United States. Their business model involves buying old, unpaid debts from banks and other creditors for pennies on the dollar. These can include credit card debts, medical bills, personal loans, and more.
PRA then makes money by collecting on those debts. As you can imagine, they pursue collections aggressively. In fact, the company has faced thousands of lawsuits over the years accusing them of harassment and illegal practices.
When PRA calls, it means they likely purchased your old debt from a creditor and are now attempting to collect on it for profit. This could be many years after you originally incurred the debt!
Why Is Portfolio Recovery Calling Me?
If you find yourself on the receiving end of repeated PRA calls lately, you may be wondering why they suddenly decided to target you.
In short, PRA believes you owe a debt that they now own the rights to collect on. Here’s a quick overview of how the debt buying/collecting process typically works:
- You default on a debt like a credit card, medical bill, etc.
- The original creditor charges it off after attempts to collect fail.
- The creditor sells the debt for pennies on the dollar to a debt buyer like PRA.
- PRA adds it to their portfolio and begins collection efforts to earn a profit.
This usually starts with phone calls and letters aimed at getting you to pay. But just because PRA is calling doesn’t necessarily mean you legally owe the debt. Here are some common scenarios:
- The debt is too old – Debts typically have a statute of limitations. Once passed, they are no longer legally enforceable. PRA may call trying to collect anyway.
- Mistaken identity – It could be a case of confused or intentionally faulty identity. You share a name with the actual debtor.
- Already paid or discharged – You may have already paid off or discharged the debt previously. Collectors like PRA often call regardless.
The uncertainty is exactly why it’s critical to consult a legal professional or firm that specializes in debt collection issues, like Why Is Portfolio Recovery Calling Me. They can help you understand your rights and navigate the situation properly.
How To Get PRA To Stop Calling
If you want Portfolio Recovery’s incessant calls to end, here are some of the most effective options:
Send a written cease and desist letter
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), PRA must stop contacting you if you send a letter formally demanding it (with some exceptions). Sending a cease and desist stops the calls and puts you in control.
Dispute the debt in writing
If you believe you don’t actually owe the debt, dispute it in writing within 30 days. PRA must then cease collection efforts until providing debt verification.
Note the debt is past the statute of limitations
If the debt is too old to be legally enforced, let PRA know it is time-barred debt. Ethically, they should stop collections on obsolete debt.
Hire a lawyer
A lawyer can intervene on your behalf asserting your rights, often stopping PRA’s contact. Legal action also puts pressure on them.
Report them to the FTC and state attorney general
If PRA keeps calling after you ask them to stop, report them for violations. This can spur investigations into their practices.
Block their calls
Blocking their numbers as a last resort can help slow the calls. But it risks missing important notices sent via phone.
Fighting back against unwelcome debt calls takes effort but pays off by halting the harassment.
What Rights Do I Have Under the FDCPA?
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that prohibits deceptive, abusive, or otherwise unfair debt collection tactics. It’s one of the most important tools at your disposal when dealing with PRA.
Here are some key rights and protections the FDCPA provides:
- Limited calls – Collectors can’t call repeatedly in a harassing way, like 8 times a day.
- No odd hour calls – Calls before 8 am or after 9 pm are generally prohibited.
- Must provide written validation – If you dispute in writing, they must provide verification of the debt like a copy of the bill.
- No threats – Threats of violence, arrest, criminal prosecution, etc. are banned.
- No 3rd party contact – Collectors can’t contact your friends, family, employer about the debt without permission.
- Cease communication upon request – As mentioned earlier, they must honor written cease and desist letters.
If a collector like PRA violates these rights and any other provision of the FDCPA, you can sue them for damages of up to $1,000 plus attorney fees. Many lawyers offer free case reviews to assess potential FDCPA violations. Know your rights and don’t hesitate to assert them when necessary.
Is Portfolio Recovery a Legitimate Collection Agency?
Despite their questionable tactics, Portfolio Recovery Associates is a real debt collection agency. PRA first registered in Delaware in 1996 and has grown significantly over the past couple decades. They are now publicly traded and pull in around $1 billion in annual revenue.
PRA collects on all sorts of unpaid consumer debt including credit cards, personal loans, medical bills, telecom bills, etc. Much of this debt is outdated and purchased for a fraction of the amount owed.
While PRA is a legitimate collector, they have developed an extensive track record of lawsuits and regulatory actions taken against them:
- Over 1,500 lawsuits have been filed by consumers reporting harassment and illegal practices.
- In 2015, PRA settled with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for $19 million in response to allegations of unfair debt collection.
- Multiple states have investigated and fined PRA hundreds of thousands in penalties for shady collection attempts on time-barred debt.
So while PRA is a real company, take caution. Independently verify any debt they claim you owe before paying or providing personal information. Consult a lawyer if you suspect violations.
Steps to Handle PRA Harassment
If you find yourself on the receiving end of Portfolio Recovery’s aggressive collection efforts, here is an action plan to protect yourself:
Keep detailed records
Note dates, times, frequency and details about calls. Save voicemails, letters, and other communications. This creates a paper trail if legal action becomes necessary.
Send a cease and desist letter
Formally demand in writing that they stop contacting you. This is your right under the FDCPA.
If you don’t believe you actually owe the debt, dispute it via certified mail. PRA must then verify.
Speak with a lawyer
Share your documentation with a lawyer to discuss violations and potential legal remedies like suing for up to $1,000.
File complaints with the FTC and your state attorney general detailing illegal practices. Multiple complaints spark investigations.
Let calls go to voicemail
Don’t engage with calls. Let them go to voicemail and save the messages as further evidence.
Block their numbers
As a last step, block PRA’s numbers to slow the calls. But be cautious about blocking possible legal notices.
Hopefully now you understand why Portfolio Recovery Associates starts bombarding you with calls out of the blue. They likely bought old debt associated with your name and are trying to collect.
But this doesn’t mean you actually owe the debt or have to endure persistent harassment. You have rights! So document everything, send cease and desist letters, dispute invalid debts, and don’t hesitate to get legal help asserting your rights under consumer protection laws.
Fight back against predatory collectors like PRA. And breathe easy knowing the harassing calls will soon stop.