“I’m getting phone calls from Portfolio Recovery — what do I do?”
[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:
- If you have sent a cease and desist letter that PRA received, then no one from PRA can call you. If they do, look at suing under the FDCPA.
- PRA can’t auto dial (computer dial) your cell phone if you have told PRA not to (see sample dispute letter) or if you never gave the original creditor permission to call your cell phone. This is the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) law.
- PRA is calling third parties (anyone other than you or your spouse) under most circumstances. You would use the FDCPA to sue PRA for this type of abuse.
- Or, PRA is being deceptive or unfair in the calls as defined by the FDCPA.
“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.
- 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.
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