"I’m getting phone calls from Portfolio Recovery — what do I do?"

“I’m getting phone calls from Portfolio Recovery — what do I do?”

"I'm getting phone calls from Portfolio Recovery -- what do I do?"

Phone calls from Portfolio Recovery with a picture of a phone

[Updated November 29, 2019] Portfolio Recovery Associates is a huge debt collector based out of Virginia that sues about a 100 Alabama consumers a week and makes countless calls to consumers every day.  If you are getting calls, what in the world should you do?  Answer them?  Ignore them?  Block them?  Let’s talk about this.

(If you have been sued, feel free to read our article or watch the video on your 5 options when sued in Alabama by a debt collector such as Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA) as this will give you a good overview of the possible actions you should take).

“Why is PRA calling me?”

To collect a debt.  Normally this is an old credit card debt.  It could be a few years old or even more than a decade old.

“Should I pull my credit reports to see if PRA is on my reports?”

Yes — pull through www.AnnualCreditReport.com to see what PRA is reporting about the debt.  Sometimes what it reports on the debt is much different than what it says in the collection letters or collection calls to you.  Keep in mind that Portfolio Recovery almost always credit reports unless the debt is too old to report. (Even then we have caught them reporting or threatening to report).  So it is a great idea to pull your credit reports.

“Should I save my collection letters and envelopes from Portfolio Recovery?”

Yes — you will want to compare or have your lawyer compare everything PRA says about the debt:

  • Collection calls
  • Credit reports
  • Collection letters

It is quite common for these to be very different.  

So the collector calling you from PRA may say that the debt is $3,000.

But the collection letter sent before or after the call says the amount is $2,750.  And your credit report shows PRA listed as $3,300.  That can be helpful in showing they are violating the law.

This is important because the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits a debt collector (such as PRA) from any type of false statements or deception.  When this law (FDCPA) is violated, you may want to sue PRA for money damages in Federal Court.

“Does Portfolio Recovery have the right to call me?”

Normally PRA can call you but there are important restrictions:

“Should I talk to PRA?”

In our opinion — Yes.  Find out the following after PRA verifies it has the right person (date of birth, last 4 of social):

  • Who is calling — you want to verify it actually is Portfolio Recovery
  • Why is PRA calling you
  • What debt is PRA collecting
  • How much is the debt
  • When did you create or take out the debt
  • What will PRA do if you don’t pay the debt
  • Ask/demand PRA send you proof in writing by mail

Take very good notes of the phone call.

If you are on your cell phone, take a screen shot of your call log so you can show the exact number you called (or were called from), the length of the call and the date.  If PRA says the call may be recorded, then you may want to consider recording the call.

For example:

  • On September 8, 2019, at 2:33 pm I spoke with PRA
  • They called from 800-722-1413
  • His name was “Jack”
  • He said this was a GE Money Bank Card
  • I last paid on it in 2012
  • The amount owed is $4,450
  • He said if I don’t pay then PRA would garnish my wages after contacting my employer
  • He didn’t want to send a letter but finally said he would
  • We ended the call

In this example, the statute of limitations has expired as it is 3 years in Alabama — even the collectors agree it is no more than 6 years.  So you can’t be sued but PRA has threatened to garnish.

Can’t garnish you without a judgment.

Can’t get a judgment without suing you and it is too late to sue.

So this is a lie and violates the FDCPA.

The threat to contact your employer is also a violation of the FDCPA in this situation.

You would not have known this information without talking to PRA so that’s why we think it is normally a very good idea to either answer the call or return a missed call.

“Should I pay PRA?”

Only if you are sure PRA owns the debt and it won’t restart the statute of limitations.

Often the debt PRA is calling you on is beyond the time period to sue — the statute of limitations.  But PRA believes that if you make a single $10 or $50 payment, it restarts the clock so PRA can sue you.  Whether this is right or wrong is beside the point, why give PRA that argument?

We see court case after court case where PRA claims to own a debt but brings no proof to court of this or the “proof” or evidence they bring is so bad the judge throws the case out.  If PRA doesn’t prove it owns the debt when it sues, then are you sure you want to pay PRA before a suit?

If you pay PRA will you then owe some other company who really does own the debt?

I would not pay unless you have spoken with a consumer litigation attorney to make sure this is the right thing to do.  (If you live in Alabama you can call us at 205-879-2447).

“Should I sue Portfolio Recovery?”

If PRA has violated the law then sue.  This can be the FDCPA because of bogus/illegal collection activity.  Or the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for false credit reporting.  Or the illegal calls to your cell phone which will violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

You sue for money damages.

We don’t get paid unless PRA pays you.

And normally PRA will go away — get rid of the debt and get it off of your credit report.  PRA knows from all the lawsuits we have filed against PRA that is a requirement of ours if PRA wants to settle the case.

“If I want to know the next step to take and I live in Alabama what should I do now?”

Call us at 205-879-2447 or fill out our contact form and we will get right back with you to discuss your options and whether it makes sense to file a lawsuit now.

Thanks for reading this — feel free to comment or share below so others can benefit!  Thanks!

John Watts


  1. cokeefe says:

    I am in bankruptcy and have 2 credit cards I needed statements on for another hardship case I am doing. When I called the credit card companies I found out that they were with Portfolio Recovery. Should I add Portfolio Recovery to my bankruptcy, too? I’ve already had the meeting of the creditors and the last day for a creditor to dispute the bankruptcy has now past.
    I’m confused, can they still come after me to recover the debt even though I had put both credit cards on my bankruptcy? I did not know they had been sent to PR and am wondering if this is a way they are getting around bankruptcy?
    Thanks for any information.

    C. O’Keefe

    • John Watts says:

      Great question!

      Simple answer is you need to get with your bankruptcy lawyer.

      Longer answer is it depends on how things are done in your court. Also depends on when did it go to Portfolio Recovery — before or after you filed Bankruptcy?

      My suggestion is to always give notice to anyone and everyone. If you were my client I suspect I would file a notice for PRA and say we just found out but we had given notice to the credit card companies. Could also send your own “notice” to PRA and include the bankruptcy petition. Ask them when they bought the debt — often PRA buys debt after it goes into bankruptcy but before the discharge.

      Ultimately I think you will be fine as long as you are not trying to hide the bankruptcy from any creditors and that sounds like the last thing you are doing! 🙂

      So get with your lawyer and find out what the local practice is and, when in doubt, give notice….

      Hope this helps!

      John Watts

  2. victims says:

    Portfolio Recovery hires gang stalking murderers and they will use electronic harassment. They do not care if people die.

    • John Watts says:

      Well I wouldn’t go that far but they are pretty ruthless. Best way to stop them is to sue them when they break the law — money will cause them to straighten up. When they have to pay enough of it, then it won’t make sense to break the law.


      John Watts

    • Jean says:

      Well, they are pretty darn bad -I am a senior citizen and COMPLETELY closed my phone account due to them calling and calling and calling all from different numbers. I recently lost my husband and this made me sooo nervous I did not feel I had a choice but to get rid of my phone!!!! SEVENTY-FIVE calls in THIRTY DAYS!!! AND here is the clincher – I don’t owe ANYONE ANY MONEY!!! NOT A PENNY and have NOT had any debt for over 20 years and never even had a late payment!! SO GO FIGURE – do they care if you die from stress???? NO

      • John Watts says:


        Sorry you have had to deal with them — that’s terrible.

        I would get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state as you should be compensated for this and you should not lose your phone to these bad people.

        If you are in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-2447 — if you live elsewhere, get with a lawyer in your state.

        You deserve some peace and these guys need to be put in their place.

        John Watts

  3. Ed says:

    I started getting debt collection calls immediately after getting my current phone number for someone who, I assume, had the number before me. I haven’t answered them and now all I get are the portfolio recovery people calling. I keep blocking the numbers but they call from another one. Is there a way to get them to stop? I haven’t answered any of the calls.

    • John Watts says:


      This is a common problem. If these are calls on your cell phone, then normally you can sue under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act). If these are to your home phone, you may still be able to sue under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

      Alot depends on the circumstances of the calls.

      If you live in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn. If out of state, get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to find out the best approach.

      But to answer your question you can get them to stop calling — often it is a lawsuit that does the trick….

      John Watts

    • Jon says:

      Exactly same situation with me. After moving, I got a land line with a new number in my den which allows me to work from home. I am presuming the previous owner of the number assigned to me owed some money. It has been 13 months since I acquired this number and still Portfolio Recovery calls. Do I ever pick up the phone? No. I typically only the phone to call out and if it rings, I know if a co-worker is calling me. I don’t feel it is worth my time to have to convince Portfolio Recovery the situation. For one thing, it is common knowledge that Portfolio Recovery buys charged off loans for pennies on the dollar. So if they think my number is somehow the “best” way to contact someone to whom they are trying to reach, they can just keep on calling while I keep on laughing. Advice to others who actually owe money? Change your number, because it’s obvious these debt collectors are only hoping people like me help them realize they have a stale number. And I am not going to help them.

      • John Watts says:


        That is certainly your right to not answer the phone. If you ever do get tired of them calling, you can let them know they have the wrong number. 50/50 chance they will keep calling — that’s when they need to be sued.

        Thanks for your comment and perspective!

        John Watts

  4. Shawn says:

    They are reporting a debt going back to 2004 and now my son got a new phone number which they think is mine and they call him on that number asking for me what can I do to get rid of the debt report and them to stop calling mY son

    • John Watts says:


      Several questions.

      On the debt going back to 2004 — is that when you stopped paying on it or when you got the debt?

      On your son’s phone — is this a cell? Is it in his name or yours?

      Give us a call if you are in Alabama — 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn. If you live in another state, get with a consumer protection lawyer there.

      You and your son should have some decent options dealing with Portfolio Recovery.


      John Watts

  5. Liana says:

    I got a call from them saying I have a debt from Nordstrom and I had to pay it. But it was from 2014 but I never made a credit card until this past month. I gave them my address and called Nordstrom and they said nothing showed up under my name either because the information has been too old or that there really has been nothing.

    • John Watts says:


      If you never had a credit card until recently, then hard for Portfolio to be properly collecting against you on a 2014 Nordstrom card.

      Its usually best to let Portfolio know you dispute the account. Sometimes it is better to sue right away but normally you would send the dispute letter.

      If you are in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-1447 and we’ll be happy to help you.


      John Watts

  6. Bridgette says:

    I received calls for PRA in 2011 and 2012 for someone else’s account. I believe my TCPA rights were violated then. Is there a statute of limitations on when i received calls before I can sue?

    • John Watts says:

      It is normally 4 years. This can be a little uncertain as sometimes there are class actions that may extend the time but may also bind you to a class action settlement. Check with a consumer lawyer in your state — a good general rule of thumb is 4 years but its worth checking out as this area of the law is a bit fluid.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  7. Dawn says:

    They call me several times a week about a debit my late husband had before we got married plus I never had my current number when my husband was alive. I try explaining that to them. They keep saying I owe it!

    • John Watts says:


      Is Portfolio Recovery saying you personally owe your late husband’s debt? Was it only in his name?

      Do they call your home or cell?

      If you are in Alabama, give us a call at 205-879-2447 as we will likely discuss suing these jokers.

      If you live somewhere else, get with a lawyer in your state to find out your options.

      But what you have described is very bad and it looks like Portfolio needs to be sued to get them to leave you alone….

      John Watts

  8. Marie says:

    Capitol One wrote off my credit card debt according to the Credit Bureaus. Now I have received a letter from PRA saying they have acquired the debt. They also call my cell continuously. Is this something I should be concerned with? I thought once the debt was written off, the debt no longer exists…period. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    • John Watts says:


      Thanks for your comment.

      Basically “writing off” a debt or “charging off” a debt is an accounting function. It does not mean the debt is gone or can’t be collected.

      You may want to do a dispute letter to Capital One — this sample one will dispute the debt and tell them not to call your cell phone anymore.

      Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA) definitely sues. I don’t know if they will sue in your case but in Alabama they file the second highest number of cases among debt buyers (debt collectors).

      They also seem to routinely break the law — especially the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) — so be careful.

      If you are in Alabama, give us a call and we can help you look at your options.

      Best wishes

      John Watts

      • Marie says:

        I should send the letter to Capital One and not Portfolio Recovery Associates?

        • John Watts says:


          I would consider sending the letter to Portfolio, not Capital One. Unless Capital One is calling, etc. The dispute letter goes to the debt collector who is actually calling/writing you.

          Hope that helps…

          John Watts

  9. Rick says:

    I’m getting phone calls every single day from these people, on my work phone. They are looking for someone who hasn’t worked here for more than 7+ years. I continue to tell them that, but they continue to call.

    • John Watts says:


      Very frustrating situation!

      Sorry you are dealing with this — to solve it, I would look at suing them since they are harassing you, especially at work.

      I would document every single call and conversation with them.

      Then talk to a consumer protection lawyer — if you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 and we’ll be happy to help you look at suing these guys.

      Often you have to sue PRA (Portfolio Recovery Associates) to get their attention. And a lawsuit definitely gets their attention!

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  10. Gen says:

    They have called me here in Louisiana. Its hilarious. I don’t owe them anything and the old debt that they bought, they are trying to collect from 2010. I have sent them no money and don’t owe them anything. They bought an old debt that according to their letter to me they cannot do much about because the debt is old. I feel that if they bought a debt that is old that is on them. I have no debt to them and will not pay them. I did not owe them to begin with. They can go screw themselves. I wouldn’t send them a dime because I don’t owe them anything.

    • John Watts says:


      I hear you loud and clear.

      They are hoping they can trick or intimidate you into paying which may restart the statute of limitations.

      Do make sure they are not credit reporting due to the age of the account — it is either too old or will be too old shortly.

      I would also get with a consumer protection lawyer in Louisiana to see if they are violating the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) by calling and writing you.

      Good for you that you are not being tricked by them and thanks for sharing your story with us!

      Best wishes my friend….


  11. Arial says:

    Hello, I am also receiving calls from Portfolio every day from a few different states. I live in PA. This debt was investigated through the credit bureaus and removed from my report. I defaulted on that card in 2003 and the statue in pa is 7 years. So my question is do they have the right to call me daily on my cell several times a day? It is very annoying. What are my options? Thanks

    • John Watts says:


      You would have to get with a PA consumer protection lawyer as this can be specific to each state but in general terms a collector can call on an old debt past the statute of limitations.

      But they have to be very very careful.

      If they suggest you could be sued — that violates the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).

      If they imply they might credit report — that violates the FDCPA also.

      If they try to get you to make a payment and don’t tell you that paying may result in restarting the statute of limitations, that can be a violation of the FDCPA.

      You can always send a cease and desist letter. Since can’t sue you or credit report, that would get them to stop calling.

      If they are calling on your cell phone you may can sue under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) if they are using computer (robo) calls.

      So you have some options to stop this annoying stuff but I would first get with a lawyer there who understands these laws and how they work together — he or she can come up with a great game plan for you to make this stop.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  12. Ashley says:

    I had a capital one bill that was charged off. But they still call constantly, I’m considering filing a dispute but do not know how to go about doing so….

  13. Velma says:

    We are receiving calls weekly, sometimes once or twice a day, from numbers from all over the US showing up from Portfolio Recovery. We have no outstanding debts on loans or credit cards so there is no reason for them to be calling. I am not answering the calls but they do not give up. What should I do? These calls come as late as 8 or 9 p.m. in the evening and begin by 9 a.m.

    • John Watts says:


      I would answer the call to do the following:
      1. Who are they calling for? You or someone you don’t know?
      2. If calling for you, ask them to send you proof of the supposed debt. If calling for someone else, you can tell them to stop calling you.
      3. Document very carefully your conversations.

      Hopefully, this stops the problem but if the calls continue after you tell Portfolio Recovery to stop — then you may look at suing. Get with a consumer protection lawyer in your state to file suit against PRA for violating the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) law.

      Hope this helps — if you are in Alabama give us a call at 205-879-2447 thanks!

      John Watts

  14. Pam says:

    Portfolio has been calling my cell phone and my landline several times a day and with different numbers it’s an old debt that is timed out for my think back in 2005 (nys) and I am on SSI disability I don’t answer the calls told them once to stop calling .if I block them they call from another number .I have no idea how they got my cell phone number .what can I do about them

    • John Watts says:


      If you told them to stop calling and if you never gave Portfolio or the original creditor your cell, then you should look at suing under the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) for computer-dialed calls to your cell.

      And under the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) for calling you when you told them not to. Can make a difference if you told them in writing or on the phone.

      Are they writing letters to you?

      Any credit reporting?

      Get with consumer protection lawyer in your state — if you are in Alabama we would discuss suing Portfolio. Our number is 205-879-2447 if you are in Alabama.

      Thanks and best wishes

      John Watts

  15. Ashley says:

    Portfolio called me severla times for a capital one and victoria secret credit card. I do owe on these and they lowered the cost and also I agreed to make the payments. Was that a smart decision to start paying it back?

    Thank you

    • John Watts says:


      There are a lot of unknowns — did Portfolio really own these debts? If so, then always good to work it out in a deal that both sides can live with.

      Your alternative was to fight them — now some do that and we certainly fight Portfolio a lot. But without knowing the details I can’t say whether it was good or bad.

      Frankly, every situation is different and my suggestion is to trust your instincts that you made the right decision.

      Now since the decision has been made, do keep an eye on your credit reports. When you pay these debts off you should check your credit reports to make sure that Portfolio is not reporting that you still owe money.

      Best wishes!

      John Watts

  16. Interesting Concept says:

    South Carolina here. Wife had a couple of Chase cards, that wen’t into default back in 2008 or so.
    And was eventually charged off around 2012.
    We get calls from them about 3-5 times a week.
    Then nothing for maybe an entire month, then it starts up again.
    However the problem I have with the entire situation, is that during the last administration when democrats controlled both houses, with a democrat president they passed a law, that allowed charged off debts to be converted to income, or debt to equity, and thus the charged off amounts became taxable as income by the I.R.S..

    This appear’s to change up the legality of whether or not there existed any debt once it was converted over to equity income, therefor brings up the question of whether or not Chase could legally sell the charged off debt, once they reported the loss to the I.R.S.
    As the old collection process, doesn’t appear to be legal when a person is no longer in the same class as other debtor’s.

    The two Chase cards only had a debt owed of $2k between both of the cards, yet the taxable liability under the law was a little more than $400.00.

    It makes no sense from any legal point of view, to consider a debt still exists, when it’s Federally defined as being taxable income.
    No more than it would make any sense, to make someone pay $400.00 federal taxes on $2,000.00, and still be expected to settle with a debt collection agency.

    I’ll tell ya, the politicians sure know how to take things that are broken to make sure they can’t be fixed.

    Heck she’s still waiting to find out the differences in monies she over paid to the Federal government from the prior tax season.
    And because that information was never given to her, this years tax filing kept getting rejected, because the AGI is different after the I.R.S. adjusted her prior years return to reflect the added equity for the charged off debt.

    Starting to feel, she should be getting paid to straighten out this mess.

    • John Watts says:

      Understand your frustration.

      Its long been the law, however, that debt that is charged off can be taxable income if the company it is owed to doesn’t believe it will be collected.

      There are some exceptions to this (disputed debt etc) and even if otherwise valid, if you meet certain conditions you don’t have to pay (perhaps an insolvency exception). Bottom line is if you are facing this, get with a lawyer in South Carolina (Penny Hays Cauley is a good one) and/or a tax person to see your options.

      Again I know it is frustrating but keep fighting and you’ll get all of this behind you soon hopefully!

      Best wishes

      John Watts

  17. Bob says:

    These guys use CID spoofing to circumvent blocked numbers. Have had a problem with them for a few years. Is there a basic cease & desist template you can provide so that we can all mail off letters and get step 1 crossed off the list?

    I did this with a gym once. I just downloaded someone else’s cease & desist letter, changed up the information to match me and the gym in question. Never heard from them again.

    • John Watts says:


      A sample cease and desist letter is this:

      “Please immediately cease all contact with me on any account you claim to have on me. And I dispute any debt you claim to have on me.”

      Send it certified (so they won’t lie about getting it).

      These letters can help but you do have to understand the good and bad of them.

      Best wishes — remember it may not stop the letters and it won’t stop a lawsuit if Portfolio wants to sue you. It can help but not a total solution normally.

      John Watts

  18. Barb Martin says:

    I have for the last several weeks been getting calls from a caller identified by caller ID as “Portfolio Recovery”. They never leave a message. My credit is excellent–I do not owe anyone. I have 1 credit card, and 1 store credit card. I pay both off monthly. I have tried “call block” and get calls with same ID from different numbers. How do I get them to STOP? My phone IS on the “Do not Call list”.

    • John Watts says:


      Very frustrating — sorry dealing with this.

      I would call the number back if you can’t catch the call coming in.

      Ask these types of questions:
      1. Who are you?
      2. What’s your company’s name?
      3. What debt do you say I owe?
      4. Send me proof in writing as I do not owe this debt and don’t want you bothering me anymore unless you can prove I owe this debt to you.

      It may be a scam company trying to impersonate Portfolio Recovery Associates. I sue PRA a lot but they are a real company. Sometimes the scammers get a name very similar to a real company to try to get paid on debts you don’t owe.

      If these guys won’t send you a real letter through the mail (not fax, not email, etc) then a scam. You can report to FTC and CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). Once the scammers realize you won’t pay, they will move on.

      Hope that helps — if you are in Alabama feel free to call us at 205-879-2447 thanks!

      John Watts

  19. J R Y says:

    Yes. this isn’t a new law….. I filed insolvency. when it happened to me over 20 years ago…..

    • John Watts says:

      Thanks for comment — I thought it had been around a while but nice to hear you know first hand about it. Thanks for sharing!


  20. Freddie L Bass says:

    I saw your phone number : 1 630 256 8591 from portfoliorecov but I never know about it but I can’t speak with you because I am deaf black man as hearing impaired and I use texts and emails only forever! I still never speak as can’t speak and I am hearing impaired as deaf black man and I am unemployment now! Thank you

  21. Evan Kangas says:

    PRA is intercepting phone calls to my phone and sending people to voicemail and doing a collection call to me instead. I am not receiving calls from friends or family. I reset my phone and they still keep blocking calls to me what can I do?
    231 519 0150

    • John Watts says:

      I have never heard of this — I would talk to the police as that would be a crime. Hope they can help you!

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