If you’re reading this article, I bet you’ve recently been contacted by a company called Portfolio Recovery Associates.
Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, is a collection agency that buys old debts from lenders and companies who have been unable to collect the debt themselves.
How Portfolio Recovery Associates Works
Portfolio Recovery buys multiple accounts with old debt from companies that have given up and “charged off” the accounts.
In other words, when the original creditor has been unsuccessful in collecting on a debt, it will write off the debt as a loss. This is called a charge off.
Companies can still make a small amount of money by selling off their old debt to third-party collection agencies.
This is where Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, comes into the picture.
Portfolio Recovery will buy old debt for pennies on the dollar. By purchasing old debt, Portfolio Recovery becomes the debt collector, gambling that it can collect on the debt and make a profit.
Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, is not a scam. If you’re hearing from this Norfolk, Virginia-based collection agency, you owe the agency money, and it has a strong incentive to collect on your debt.
How To Deal With Portfolio Recovery
When you hear from Portfolio Recovery (or any other debt collector), let the agency know that you know your rights.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act outlines your rights as a consumer. You get to dictate how and when a debt collector contacts you.
First off, you should insist all future communication takes place in writing and via mail. This action will stop the collection calls and collection letters. But it also has a more important role to play.
Communicating in writing creates a paper trail so you can show evidence of agreements.
You can write PRA Group at 120 Corporate Boulevard, Norfolk, VA 23502. The agency’s website, www.portfoliorecovery.com, includes additional contact info if needed.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is dealing with collection agencies over the phone. They often end up making agreements the collection agency doesn’t honor.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by trying to deal with collection agencies on your own,
we recommend seeking help from Lexington Law.
Steps To Remove Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA Group) From Your Credit Report
When you owe Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC money, your account will also be reported to the three credit reporting agencies.
Having a debt collection company on your credit report could pull down your credit score by as much as 100 points — if you had excellent credit to begin with. Borrowing money will become more difficult.
In addition to settling the debt, you’ll also want this collection removed from your credit report with all three credit bureaus.
Here’s how to make this happen:
1. Make Them Prove the Debt is Yours
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) require the major credit bureaus to report only accurate information about your debt.
So, if the PRA Group entry on your credit report is inaccurate, getting it removed should be easy.
Debt buyers like Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, buy hundreds of accounts at a time from credit card companies like CapitalOne and Discover and from student loan servicers and lenders.
There’s a chance some details about your account got lost in the transfer from the original creditor. If so, you can get the debt removed from your credit report.
Of course, it’s even possible the debt was never yours to begin with. Sometimes Social Security numbers get typed incorrectly. It’s also possible the debt belongs to someone who has a similar name or address.
Disputing accounts this way doesn’t always work. First, the debt may be accurately reported. And, if it’s inaccurate, PRA Group could simply fix the errors and re-list the debt.
Debt Validation Deadline
You have to act quickly to use this strategy. The law gives you 30 days from the first time Portfolio Recovery Associates contacts you to request debt validation. If you wait beyond 30 days, the debt collector has no legal obligation to investigate your debt’s accuracy.
If you’d like to give this a try, use my sample debt validation letter.
Send it to the PRA Group as quickly as possible. If the agency can’t validate your debt, it’ll have to stop trying to collect and remove the debt from your credit report.
2. Offer to Pay Them to Remove the Collection
When you’re unsuccessful with the debt validation method, above, or if it’s been over 30 days since you first heard from Portfolio Recovery Associates, it’s time to consider a pay-for-delete agreement.
This is a great way to remove the collection from your credit report because it harnesses the power of your payment. Like I said above, debt buyers make a profit when you make a payment on your old debt.
So you can use your payment as an incentive to have Portfolio Recovery Associates remove the negative information from your credit reports.
You don’t have to pay off the full amount. In fact, since Portfolio Recovery Associates likely bought your old debt for much less than your balance, they’ll make a profit even if you pay only half the balance. Or even less.
I would start by offering to pay 50% of what you owe. This can start a conversation that leads to an agreement.
Delete and Remove the Account
Here’s the important part: Before making a payment, make sure your payment will delete the account from your credit history and cancel the entire balance. Get this agreement in writing before making a payment or beginning a payment plan.
Only after you’ve agreed in writing on an amount — and agreed that the amount will cancel your debt and remove it from the credit bureaus — should you write a check. (Don’t give a debt collection agency your bank account numbers.)
You’ll want to follow up in 30 days to make sure PRA Group has removed the collection account from your credit report. If it hasn’t, write another letter demanding that they fulfill the agreement. Finally, you can send a copy of your pay-for-delete agreement as a friendly reminder.
If you still don’t get the results, let your state attorney general’s office know and file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could levy fines against debt collectors that violate your rights.
3. Have a Professional Remove the Portfolio Recovery Collection
On the other hand, some consumers don’t have time to write letters to debt collectors. If you feel this way you should consider hiring a professional credit repair company.
I suggest you check out Lexington Law.
Lexington Law Firm knows all about debt collectors’ efforts to intimidate consumers. They’ll cut through the red tape and get results within a couple months.
Lexington Law typically get stuff removed from your credit report a lot quicker than you could on your own.
Check out their website here.
Knowing Your Rights Helps Protect You
Be sure you know your rights in advance of contacting this debt collector. For example, Portfolio Recovery Collection cannot:
- Threaten you with criminal action: Debt in the United States doesn’t go through the criminal court system. However, PRA Group could sue you and try to garnish your wages, but this would happen in civil court. A wage garnishment would require a default judgment against you followed by a judge’s order to garnish wages.
- Call you at work: They also can’t make phone calls to your friends, family members, or employers about your debt.
- Call phone numbers you’ve asked them not to call: The FDCPA gives you the right to decide which contact information debt collectors use. For example, Portfolio Recovery cannot send robocalls to your cellphone if you ask them to stop. Like I said above, I recommend insisting on writing and good old-fashioned snail mail.
- Sue you after the statute of limitations has expired: Each state has a statute of limitations that sets an expiration date on a debt collector’s ability to win a lawsuit. A lawsuit filed after the statute expires won’t hold up. However, this doesn’t mean you no longer owe the money or that it will stop hurting your credit.
If you’re not sure about your rights or whether Portfolio Recovery Associates has violated them, seek legal advice from an attorney in your area.
How to Get Your Free Credit Report
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau gives you access to your credit reports once a year, free of charge, at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, you can get a free credit report once a week through April of 2021.
Monitoring your credit report will be key to getting Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, off your credit reports and out of your life for good.