Being a debt collector is a tough job, especially if you specialize in collecting very old debt. So today we're taking a look at Portfolio Recovery Associates, an infamous debt collector who often calls people out of the blue regarding long-forgotten debt.
Portfolio Recovery Associates specializes in recovering old debt, as their website states:
They purchase consumer and small business accounts that have been charged off from the books of major banks, retailers, credit unions, consumer and auto finance companies, telecommunications, utility providers, student loan lenders, and other businesses.
This particular business calls from a variety of numbers (see list below). This allows them to avoid having their number blocked, and helps mask their identity to the unsuspecting person who answers their call.
As we’ve stated in past articles, if you talk to collectors such as this, they may tell you that they’re looking for a friend or relative that you haven’t seen for years. They may try to make you believe they are calling from an attorney’s office. These types of debt collectors purchases old debt for pennies on the dollar in hopes they can collect it to make a profit. They are racing against the clock to collect as they only have 7 years from the time of the original delinquency to legally come after you. In most cases, after 7 years they cannot pursue a bad debt in the courts, but they can call and write to you about it as long as they want – and they probably will. If you made payments on this old debt, it is possible they will have 7 years from the time of your last payment. Just because they purchased the debt recently does not mean they have 7 years to collect. The 7 year time frame begins on the date of the original delinquency.
Portfolio Recovery Associates are headquartered in Virginia, but operate in 10 states and in the UK, and claim to employ over 3000 people (the website claims 3000, but their BBB profile claims 1400). They have been accredited with the BBB since 12/27/1996. Despite the fact that there have been nearly 1200 complaints in the past 3 years, they retain an A+ rating with the BBB.
What to do?
Some people choose to ignore debt collectors, while others prefer to try and clear things up. That’s up to you. Chances are this is an old debt that someone has already attempted to collect and failed. We’ve heard from people who claim they’ve been called about debt nearly 20 years old. If you choose to talk to them, tell them that under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) section 809, you request validation of the debt (this should be done in writing), and give them no other information until they comply. If you choose not to talk to them, watch your mail carefully. Should they decide it’s in their best interest to sue you, you may receive a letter to that effect. Should you receive such a letter, you will want to send a certified letter to them requesting validation of the debt, as required by section 809 of the FDCPA. Below is a link to a much more in-depth article about how to deal with debt collectors.
A good option is to invoke section 805 of the FDCPA, notifying the collector that they are to cease all communications regarding this debt, outside of any legal notifications, such as a lawsuit.
BBB file opened: 12/27/1996
Business started: 03/01/1996
Type of Entity: Limited Liability Corporation
Principal: Mr. Christopher Lagow (Senior Counsel)
Ms. Judith Scott (General Counsel)
Number of Employees: 1400
Distressed Debt Purchaser
Alternate Business Names
PRA III, LLC, Anchor Receivables Management
Phone Numbers Associated with Portfolio Recovery Associates
Here is our working list of numbers for this organization. Please advise of any corrections or additions, as this is not a complete list, and phone numbers change constantly.