Example of a FDCPA/TCPA lawsuit against Portfolio Recovery

Example of a FDCPA/TCPA lawsuit against Portfolio Recovery

Example of a FDCPA/TCPA lawsuit against Portfolio RecoveryWe represented a client who started receiving phone calls to his cell phone from the large debt collector “Portfolio Recovery Associates” out of Virginia.

(Portfolio Recovery sues a hundred Alabama consumers a week but it collects against even more Alabama consumers by letter and phone calls.  Let’s take a look at when one of these Alabama consumers fought back against allegedly illegal collection activities by Portfolio).

When he found out the debt this was on, he realized this was a very old debt that he did not believe he owed Portfolio on so he sent Portfolio a letter saying “Cease communications.”

This is sometimes called a “cease and desist” letter — it basically says to the debt collector “Don’t ever communicate with me again.”

While we don’t often recommend sending these types of letters, sometimes it is appropriate to send one.  Anyway, our client sent one to the company and the CEO.

Smartly, he sent the letters by certified mail so he could prove they were received.

When a debt collector gets one of these letters, the collector cannot call anymore.

But Portfolio continued to call.

And call.

And call.

Dozens and dozens of calls — automated computer calls to our client’s cell phone.

This violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for several reasons.

First, the FDCPA prohibits almost all forms of communication after a debt collector gets a cease communications letter.

Second, the TCPA prohibits computer dialed (auto dialed, robo dialed, etc) calls to a cell phone unless permission has been given to the collector or the original creditor when the loan was taken out.  Putting that aside, assuming our client had given permission, the cease communications letter “revoked” permission.  So there was no longer any permission to call his cell phone.

So what in the world would a debt collector like Portfolio argue?

First, it never received the cease communication letter.

Second, it did not make computer dialed calls to his cell phone.

Let’s look at these to see how they held up to examination.

The certified mail gutted the argument Portfolio did not receive the cease communications letter — it signed for it.  OK, now what?

Then Portfolio argued that it didn’t understand the letter to be saying not to communicate — that the part that said “Never contact me again about this debt.”

Well, that’s a hard argument, isn’t it?

Then any debt collector — Portfolio argued that some clerical person made a mistake and didn’t enter into the system the cease and desist letter.  Not sure how a clerical person would know it was a cease communication letter when Portfolio argued it was not but…..  That didn’t fly either.

So on the TCPA Portfolio argued it did not use an auto dialer for any of the calls or maybe just for one or two.  Actually it argued it did not have an auto dialer.  That story changed when we pointed out we wanted the CEO to testify under oath as he bragged in the public filings (SEC — investment reports) that Portfolio had spent all of this money on fancy new auto dialing technology.

What’s the bottom line to all of this?

Assume the debt collectors will break the law and will be “creative” in how they argue against the violations.  Don’t get mad — is like being mad at a bee for stinging you.

Just protect yourself — send mail by certified mail; document the number of phone calls; keep good notes of conversations, etc.

And be willing to fight the debt collector to get the compensation you are entitled to receive.

“So what do I do if I live in Alabama and think a debt collector has violated the FDCPA or the TCPA?”

A couple of things to consider:

  1. Research more about the FDCPA and TCPA — what it gives you, how it protects you, etc. (See below for further research).
  2. Contact a lawyer who is experienced in both the FDCPA and TCPA litigation — if you would like to talk to us you can call us at 205-879-2447 or fill out our online contact form.

Keep in mind these powerful laws and them to the full extent possible.

Best wishes!

For further research:


  1. rosa fargas says:

    Hello! First of all let me state that I do no live in Alabama. I live in Puerto Rico. Although laws vary by state, maybe you can give me some orientation as to how to deal with Portfolio Recovery Associates as I understand cease and desist letters do not always work with them. I have a debt from 2011 for which I initially received a couple of letters that say they cannot refer me to the credit bureaus or sue me. They keep calling me 7 days a week even during evening time (9pm). I would like to stop those calls and any possible written communication. I hope you can assist me with this matter. Thank you very much.

    • John Watts says:


      First of all it is good they won’t credit report or sue. If you don’t want the calls, then you can look at a cease and desist letter.

      Here are some videos that you might find helpful:


      If they still bother you after sending this then you need to get with a lawyer that sues under the FDCPA to bring suit against Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA).

      They do not always (often?) follow the law so document everything carefully.

      Send your letter by certified mail and keep signed copy.

      Best wishes and let us know how it turns out for you.

      John Watts

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