Portfolio Recovery Associates contacted me in 2007 to collect a debt
for a utility bill I don't owe (from apparent ID theft). The bill is
from 2006 at an address I moved from back in 2004. In other words, I
was not there to run up the utilities. I have been at my current
residence since 2004.
I cooperated initially, thinking this would be easily cleared up--the
landlord confirms we left in 2004, the deed for our house closed in
2004 and is available at the courthouse. We provided copies, and all
documentation they asked for. In retrospect, my faith that a collection
agency would be willing to clear up a mistake was pretty naive, but I'd
never had any dealings with collection agencies before.
As it turns out, they have screamed at me, called me names, called me a
deadbeat--all this is against state law: West Virginia Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act 46A-2-125, Oppression and abuse.They even
told me to pay the money even though it is not my debt because it will
be the only way they will leave me alone. I don't know if this is
strictly against the law or not, but it probably made me madder than
anything else they have done. Pay money I don't owe?!! I am far more
likely to sprout wings and poo on their heads.
They have threatened to garnish my wages (I don't get wages, so this
would indeed be a trick.) Also, that threat is against state law, as
well: West Virginia Fair Debt Collection Practices Act 46A-2-124.
In addition, they frequently refuse to identify themselves when they
call--this is also against state law: West Virginia Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act 46A-2-127, Fraudulent, deceptive or
misleading representations. They call, but won't state where they're
calling from--they only give a name and number, but not a business.
They insist, "It's personal!" The number, naturally, Googles as
Portfolio Recovery Associates.
They have also threatened to come to my house and take things. They
have threatened to sue me. And so on. Keep in mind, that all this would
be very, very illegal even if I actually owed the money, which I DO NOT.
I had an attorney write a cease communication letter to them in January
2008, and they STILL continue to contact me, against state law. After
that, they did stop calling until October 2009--I thought it was over--
but for some unknown reason have begun again. I have not spoken with
them for this go around: they have instructions to contact my attorney,
and they can do that. I don't need to be abused again.
Currently I have complaints pending at the VA BBB and with the WV state
Attorney General. (I am in WV, and they are in VA.) Our attorney
General in WV doesn't seem to have patience for this sort of thing, so
I have hopes that this will finally be resolved for me. If this is
happening to you, please contact your state Attorney General's office.
It was hard to get anyone else to listen. People had sympathy, but everyone from the police to the FTC told me to sue. I'm not litigious, and can't afford to sue, anyway. I also don't think it's fair or right that only people wealthy enough to take someone to court can have justice, even with something as simple and clear cut as this.
Ironically, their motto is "Giving debt collection a good name."
Portfolio Recovery Associates operates illegally, but they can't be
forced to stop if your attorney general doesn't get reports from people like you that they are abusing. They know that people mostly don't know what to do in these situations, even when they're in the right. Even if you do actually owe the money they are trying
to collect, THERE ARE LAWS THEY HAVE TO FOLLOW, and this outfit does
NOT follow them.
Find your state's Fair Collection Statutes here:
http://www. attorneysforconsumers.com/ state-debt-collection-laws. html
Please, call your state AG, so companies that operate illegally like this can be put out of business so they don't abuse anyone else!!!