Debt collection companies are the last thing that you’ll want to deal with when you’re behind on your payments, but ignoring them will only make it worse. However, you NEVER have to take abuse or harassment from collectors. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was created to protect consumers from rude or derogatory treatment from collectors.
According to the FDCPA, debt collectors must tell you who they are and that they are collecting a debt. They must also send you written notice of your loan no later than five days after first contact and send you a letter of verification if you request it within 30 days of receiving notice. Additionally, the FDCPA explains the following actions are forbidden when collecting debt:
- Harassing family and friends or telling others about your debt.
- Calling before 8:00 a.m., after 9:00 p.m., or at times you told them not to.
- Contacting you after you send a stop contact request.
- Threatening legal action they can’t or don’t intend to take.
- Using rude, obscene, or offensive language when speaking with you.
- Lying about collecting debt or the name of the company or pretending to be someone else.
Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA Group) is a collection agency headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, with over 3,500 employees and 35 million consumer accounts. It also works in Alabama, California, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.
PRA Group mainly buys delinquent debt from creditors, but they also manage collection on accounts those companies still own. They have a wide range of clients, including banks, retailers, credit unions, auto loans, utility providers, student loans, and more. It’s one of the few publicly traded debt collection companies and one of the most influential.
Laws PRA Group Has Been Accused of Breaking
PRA Group has had thousands of complaints and a number of court summons over the last couple years. Almost 1,300 complaints were filled with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in the last three years.
In 2015, the company was under scrutiny again, this time by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)*. The CFPB ordered PRA Group to refund tens of millions of dollars, as well as stop collections on even more debt. It was accused of collecting past the statute of limitations and misleading and harassing customers.
What to Do If PRA Group is Trying to Collect a Debt from You*
If you are contacted by PRA Group, don’t ignore them. If you don’t want them to contact you, you have the right to stop contact, just remember that if the debt is yours you’ll still have to pay it. The company is also known for suing customers in hopes for a defaulted case. If you’re sued and you don’t show up for court, the case will be automatically defaulted and you’ll have to pay even if it isn’t yours or they violated the FDCPA. If you take PRA Group to court and they’re found at fault, they could be forced to pay up to $1,000, plus additional damages.
To stop contact, you need to send the request in writing. Make sure to send it by certified mail so you’ll know when they receive it. Any contact after that, except to tell you they’ve received it and won’t call you again or to summon you to court, is a violation of the FDCPA. Keep track of each and every time they call you after the request, and before if they are constantly harassing you or rude on the phone.
If you are dealing with or sued by PRA Group, you should hire a qualified FDPCA attorney. An attorney can help you agree on a monthly payment, settle with PRA Group, or represent you in front of a judge. A lawyer will not only be there to support you and to relieve the stress and fear debt collectors may cause. Once you hire a lawyer, collectors are only allowed to call him or her, so you can get back to what’s important in your life.
*Allegations found via the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be constructed as legal advice. If you file a claim against PRA Group, or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.