Your Portfolio Recovery Associates Questions Answered

Have an issue with Portfolio Recovery Associates? Need help?

Are you being harassed by a debt collector? Is someone from Portfolio Recovery Associates contacting you by phone, mail, email, or Facebook? Are they threatening to sue? We explain all about Portfolio Recovery Associates and whether they are legitimate, what to do if they contact you, and what your repayment options are. 

These are some of the common questions we hear about Portfolio Recovery Associates:

What is Portfolio Recovery Associates?

Portfolio Recovery Associates is one of the biggest collection agencies in America. They have been around since 1996. They buy debt from auto loan companies, cell phone providers, and credit card companies. An associate is someone who works for the company. 

Should I pay Portfolio Recovery Associates?

If you owe legitimate debt, Portfolio Recovery Associates is a legitimate company that will try and collect. However, even legitimate companies have been known to sometimes act unfairly and violate things like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). They have been known to try and file lawsuits almost immediately to get money for the debt that is owed. So if you have been harassed or treated unfairly, consider filing a complaint or working with an attorney. 

Is Portfolio Recovery Associates a legitimate company?

Yes, Portfolio Recovery Associates is a legitimate company. They are one of the largest debt buyers in the U.S.

Is Portfolio Recovery Associates a junk debt buyer?

Portfolio Recovery Associates purchases many types of debt, including debt owed by people who recently filed for bankruptcy. 

Can I ignore Portfolio Recovery Associates?

Don’t assume you can ignore Portfolio Recovery Associates. If they believe they are collecting on unpaid debt, they can eventually file against you or sue you in order to recover the money owed. If they violate the most recent FDCPA regulations about when and how they contact you, you have a few options. You can share their complaints, which can be shared with outside attorneys, or file complaints with the government. If that is insufficient, you can get legal help to sue the collection agency. 

Who does Portfolio Recovery Associates collect for?

Portfolio Recovery Associates collects for themselves, but they purchase debt from credit card companies, cell phone companies, and auto loans. Once they purchase the debt, they own it. Therefore, they try to recover the debt for a profit, more than whatever they paid for it. 

Why is Portfolio Recovery Associates calling me when I have no debt?

There are times when debt collectors call on debt that you do not owe. This might happen when the debt does not belong to you but you might have a similar name. It can happen when there is a mix up based on other personally identifiable information. They might also try to recover debt that is beyond the statute of limitations—meaning it is too old to be collected. In any case, if you believe there is a mistake, you need to validate the debt with Portfolio Recovery Associates immediately and ask them to validate your debt—to explain where it comes from and why you owe it. You have 30 days from the first point of contact to validate that debt. It is common for debt collectors to fail to validate telecommunications debts, utility debts, or accounts that are six years old. If Portfolio Recovery Associates does not validate your debt in accordance with the law, you can send them a notice of insufficient validation. If they are unable to validate the debt, they cannot continue to pursue repayment. 

What should I do if Portfolio Recovery Associates is calling about debt I’ve already paid?

Debt collectors might make mistakes. They might try to contact you over debt you have already paid off the debt. Debt collectors cannot intentionally misrepresent the amount of the debt, whether it’s past the statute of limitations, legal repercussions for not paying the debt, or themselves as another company, professional or authority figure. As such, if you have already paid off debt, Portfolio Recovery Associates must prove that you owe the debt they are trying to collect with a validation letter. You will need to request that validation letter and if it is incorrect, they have no legal basis. However, that does not necessarily mean Portfolio Recovery Associates will validate the debt in accordance with the law. You have options to send them a notice of insufficient validation. 

What laws apply to Portfolio Recovery Associates?

As a debt collector, some of the laws that Portfolio Recovery Associates must follow include the FCRA, the FDCPA, and the TCPA.

That alphabet soup stands for the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which gives you rights to help ensure your credit report remains accurate; the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protects you from being abused and deceived by debt collectors; and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which limits robocalls and other telephone spam.

If you think any of these consumer protection laws may apply to your situation, tell us about it.

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What should I do if Portfolio Recovery Associates is calling about debt beyond the statute of limitations (SOL)?

If you are contacted by a debt collector about debt that is beyond the statute of limitations, you need to first learn about the date the account was delinquent. For this, look at your records or your credit report. The date listed in the credit report might not be accurate. Then you will need to verify the statute of limitations for the type of debt it is. Debts like student loans, for example, have no statute of limitations whereas credit card debt expires in anywhere between 3-14 years depending on the state. Generally speaking the SOL starts at the point your debt becomes delinquent.If your debt has expired, then Portfolio Recovery Associates needs to be informed with a cease communications notice. This is something an attorney can help you with. 

How do I settle for less with Portfolio Recovery Associates?

Debt collection agencies like Portfolio Recovery Associates tend to purchase debt from the original creditor for anywhere between 1 and 10 cents on the dollar. The younger the account, the more the agency pays for the debt because they have more time to collect on it from you. Portfolio Recovery Associates tends to buy collection accounts from original creditors, not from third parties, so they tend to be younger than others. They will try to get a settlement for anywhere between 40-60% of the original debt, even if they only paid 1 cent on the dollar. Because the employees are paid on commission, they have incentives to make deals at the end of each week or month. You can use this information to try to settle for less. Dealing with settlements can be a stressful process, especially when the employees are aggressive. You can consider hiring an attorney to negotiate your settlement for you, especially if you need to prove you have financial hardship. 

How do I get rid of Portfolio Recovery Associates?

If Portfolio Recovery Associates is asking you to pay debt that you don’t think you owe, you can ask them for a validation letter. Then the obligation is on Portfolio Recovery Associates must prove that you owe the debt they are trying to collect. An attorney can help you navigate this process.If your debt is something you really owe, the best way to get rid of Portfolio Recovery Associates may be to consider settling. You can work with an attorney who can negotiate on your behalf, which will go a long way toward remaining calm, convincing them to settle, and getting rid of them once and for all. 

Can Portfolio Recovery Associates sue me?

Debt collectors like Portfolio Recovery Associates are prohibited from suing or threatening to sue consumers for payment on debt that is past the statute of limitations, although they can still ask for payment past that expiry date. If it is not beyond the expiry date, a creditor can sue you if they file a debt collection lawsuit. A creditor cannot just go in and take all the money out of your account, but they can get a judgment against you in a court of law. This judgment might force you to turn over some income or assets to settle the debt. 

Who owns Portfolio Recovery Associates?

Portfolio Recovery Associates is owned by PRA Group, Inc. The founder is Steven D. Fredrickson who served as chairman, president, and CEO until 2002 when Kevin Stevenson took over. 

Who is the CEO of Portfolio Recovery Associates?

The current CEO is Keven Stevenson. 

Where is Portfolio Recovery Associates’ headquarters?

Portfolio Recovery Associates is headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia. 

Who does Portfolio Recovery Associates collect for?

Portfolio Recovery Associates buys debt from credit card companies, auto loan providers, and telecommunications companies. They are also known for purchasing debt from people who file for bankruptcy in order to try and expedite repayment and profit on that debt. 

How are Portfolio Recovery Associates paid?

The debt collection associates who try to contact you and collect are paid a minimum wage and a commission. This means they get a commission on each settlement they achieve. So, those who work for Portfolio Recovery Associates are likely to try anything to get a settlement from you in order to make more money themselves. 

What is Portfolio Recovery on my credit report?

If you are contacted by a collection agency like Portfolio Recovery Associates, then it means your debt has likely gone into collections. So, if you settle, that debt appears as a delinquent account on your credit report. Many people mistakenly believe that when an account is paid, when that debt has been paid, it gets removed from their credit report. That is not true. If, for example, you had a tax lien but paid it off, the paid tax lien will remain on your credit report for up to seven years from the date you made the final payment. Filed lawsuits or paid judgments also remain on your credit report for up to seven years from the date they were filed. A settled account is reported as settled, with a zero balance during that time. To avoid having that lien or judgment appear on your credit report (and impact your credit score) debt buyers like Portfolio Recovery Associates will agree (as part of your settlement) to a “tradeline deletion”. This is where they delete that item from your credit report, and don’t report anything regarding the debt. If you are negotiating with Portfolio Recovery Associates, consider including a tradeline deletion as part of the negotiation process. 

Do I need a lawyer to deal with Portfolio Recovery Associates?

You do not require a lawyer to deal with Portfolio Recovery Associates, but having one might be in your best interest. Debt collection companies may not always follow the rules when it comes to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and having an attorney can reroute communication so that you don’t have to deal with phone calls, text messages, or emails. Moreover, working with an attorney can expedite communication, to ensure that Portfolio Recovery Associates provides things like validation letters on any debt within the given time frame, or follow up with cease-and-desist letters in situations where the company is trying to collect on a debt that has expired or is already paid off. If Portfolio Recovery Associates continues to harass you over debts after you ask them to cease communications, then a lawyer may be able to help you sue Portfolio Recovery Associates for damages.

How do I validate debt from Portfolio Recovery Associates?

“Validating” a debt can mean two things. You “validate” a debt by sending a letter to Portfolio Recovery Associates officially asking them for information that would confirm the validity of the debt. Remember that you have 30 days from the first time Portfolio Recovery Associates contacts you to validate the debt. Portfolio Recovery Associates then “validates” the debt on their end by providing you with this information.The FDCPA uses the word “verify” but some other organizations use the word “validate”. It means the same thing. You need to send a debt validation letter via certified mail to Portfolio Recovery Associates. Be sure to do this within 30 days of receiving contact or attempts to collect. Also, keep copies of everything you send. If Portfolio Recovery Associates is trying to collect on more than one type of debt, send a separate validation letter for each. The first 30 days you have to validate a debt does not count as a grace period, meaning, Portfolio Recovery Associates will still try to collect debt. But once the letter is received, Portfolio Recovery Associates must legally stop all collection activities until they have mailed a copy of verification to you. It should take no more than 30 days for Portfolio Recovery Associates to validate your debt, once you request validation.  

How long does it take to settle with Portfolio Recovery Associates?

How long it takes for you to settle with Portfolio Recovery Associates is based on many factors. If they have purchased more than one type of debt it might take a little bit longer to settle but the employees who work for them are paid on commission and therefore get incentives to try and settle as soon as possible. 

How much should I offer Portfolio Recovery Associates to settle a debt?

What you offer is based on your financial situation. If you are under financial hardships, you can try to negotiate for a lower percentage.Settlements typically take up a percentage of the total debt owed, between 40-60%. The debt collectors who work at organizations like Portfolio Recovery Associates do so on commission. This means that individual employees might be more likely to settle even on a slightly lower percentage if it helps them make their commission before the end of a pay period. 

Can a creditor sue you? Can they take all the money in your bank account?

If you ignore attempts to contact a legitimate debt, a debt collector or creditor might place a default judgment against you. If this happens, then a creditor can attempt to recover payment on the debt but they cannot just take money without that court order. Once they get a court order, assets like a bank account, safe deposit box, money market account, promissory notes, life insurance, or other financial accounts might be taken. 

Can I ignore a collection agency like Portfolio Recovery Associates?

According to changes to Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) in 2021, collection agencies like Portfolio Recovery Associates can contact you over debt via email, text message, and social media messages without prior consent. They cannot contact through social media in a public setting where other people can see the comments, and if they send a friend request they must disclose that they are a debt collector.You can ignore them, even if the debt is incorrect, but doing so means they may eventually place a default judgment against you and your assets (including your bank account). As such, it is better not to ignore them and to consider legal action. 

How did Portfolio Recovery Associates get my number?

When debt collection agencies like Portfolio Recovery Associates purchase debt from the original lender or from a third party debt collector who previously purchased from the original lender, it comes with access to your personal information including personal contact information. They have your phone number, they will likely also have an email address and be able to find you on social media according to the 2021 updates to the FDCPA. 

Can I use a credit card to pay for Portfolio Recovery Associates?

Yes you can probably pay your debt to Portfolio Recovery Associates with a credit card. The online payment portals for companies like Portfolio Recovery Associates will typically accept any form of payment on a settlement. Even if you enter into an agreement for a monthly repayment plan to settle the debt they own, you can use a credit card to do so and they don’t charge you extra fees for credit card over a debit card or bank account. 

Will paying off collections improve credit?

Yes, paying off collections will improve your credit long term, but it will not immediately fix your credit. Once an account goes to collections, it makes a negative impact on your credit for seven years. Until the listing is removed (at the end of that time), it will continue to bring your score down. However, the longer you postpone paying off credit that is owed, the longer it takes for that seven year period to come to an end. 

Does debt go away after 7 years?

There is a statute of limitations or SOL on each type of debt. This SOL varies by state. Where you live and where the debt was taken out will determine when the SOL applies to your debt. Debt will expire after a certain period, if it qualifies for an SOL. 

If I file for bankruptcy does my debt go away?

If you file for bankruptcy, your debt does not automatically go away. There are different kinds of bankruptcies and they each have their own terms. Chapter 7 requires you to liquidate your assets to repay as much of your debt as you can. Chapter 13 is where you enter into a settlement agreement to repay a fraction of your debt based on your financial situation. So, if you file for bankruptcy using Chapter 13, your debt does not go away. Instead, your creditors have to stop trying to collect while you enter into negotiations to reduce and settle your debts. If you file bankruptcy using Chapter 7, your creditors pause while you sell off any assets and then repay what you can. Only after your bankruptcy is closed, your repayment complete, does your debt go away. 

How do I get debt removed from my credit score?

For a debt that has already been paid, you can contact the credit reporting agencies to get the debt removed from your credit report. Your credit report is like a report card: it contains information about your credit and your debt. That report is used to generate a credit score based on the information in it, just like a report card is used to create an overall grade in school. There are three credit reporting agencies who use the same credit report to generate a credit score. All three use slightly different criteria for their scores, which is why the number you have for your credit score might be slightly different. Once debt has been paid off successfully, or once you find debt on your report that is not accurate/not yours, you will need to contact all three reporting agencies individually to have it removed or edited. Remember that making late payments can influence your credit score, even after you’ve paid off the debt in question because your history of ontime or late payments is one of the many factors included in your credit report. Still, it is important that the agencies know the debt has been paid off.If the report to the credit bureau isn’t accurate then what the collector does / needs to do is instruct the credit bureaus to “delete the tradeline”, which is different from reporting this as paid. Again, this can be something you negotiate during a settlement. If you choose to work with an attorney while trying to settle your debt or communicate with debt collection companies Portfolio Recovery Associates, your attorney can also help you get debt removed from your credit score once it has been paid or to get Portfolio Recovery Associates to agree to a tradeline deletion.

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