- Report: #1142465
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Portfolio Recovery Associates
Portfolio Recovery AssociatesP.O. Box 12903 Norfolk, Virginia USA
Portfolio Recovery Associates Sends Fraudulent Court Papers as Scare Tactic Norfolk Virginia
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Let me preface this by saying, I do owe a small amount to the originating company, and I do intend to pay it back once my financial situation permits. However, that company is very low on my list of owed money, and the account in question has been closed for a couple of years now.
I received a big scary document in the mail allegedly from my local municipal court. I opened it to find a Complaint for Money case had been filed against me by our friends at Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC. It included a Summons, a case file, a photocopy of a Bill of Sale and Assignment for the debt claimed ("for value received", but with no dollar amount indicated, which I think is illegal), and a photocopy of an alleged account statement from the originating company showing a bill from 2013.
I say "alleged" account statement, because the account in question, while it once was valid, was closed several years ago, and prior to 2013, when I'd logged into my account online to get the statements, they were gone. I'd called the originating company prior to 2013 to find out how much the balance was so I could figure out how to pay it off, and they said because the account was closed, they no longer had access to past account statements and could no longer accept payments.
So I question how it is magically possible for PRA to have conjured up an account statement from 2013 when they no longer existed prior to that year.
I say that it is "allegedly" from my local court and I say "alleged" legal documents because authentic legal court documents issued by a court do not have the words "This communication is from a debt collector and is an attempt to collect a debt..." printed along the bottom of the court's documents as well as every page in the letter. The court's documents would contain only the court's data on their official paper.
I must say, PRA has done a very nice plagiarism job. It almost got me, but I'm smarter than that. I can see how it would easily fool some people. I'm pretty sure it's illegal to forge official court documents, especially when they bear a line that clearly states it's an attempt to collect a debt. Nice touch with the Clerk of Courts stamp, also fraudulent, as that person is no longer in that position.
Also, they forgot to notarize it.
(Do your research, people! Know who your court clerks are, and know what your court's mailing envelopes and documents tend to look like. Oh, yeah, the envelope is also fraudulent.)
I showed the "alleged" legal documents to my lawyer before I noticed all of the discrepancies (which, naturally, I only noticed after having the bejeezus scared out of me and after calling the 800 number to try to talk to the prosecuting lawyer--whose number, ironically, is actually PRA's). My lawyer said to call the lawyer handling the "case" to see if anything could be worked out and if not, let him know and he'll take care of it.
I should have googled PRA first and read all of the stuff on this site, but thankfully, I didn't say enough to do much damage. And I didn't reveal or confirm any personal information.
The number sent me to a call center, where Mumblemouth answered (I swear, mouth full of marbles) and he couldn't seem to figure out how to connect me with the lawyer. I told him what I wanted to do as far as payment and he said he thought he could help.
I said "I really only called so I could speak to the lawyer listed as handling the case, because my lawyer suggested I try that first."
"Oh. You have a lawyer?"
Youbetcha. Funny how his warm and helpful leaning-into-it attitude backpedaled really fast.
Well, Mumblemouth hedged around and said he couldn't do that, but he could put me through to a manager who could maybe help me out.
I said fine and waited.
Then he came back and said he couldn't put me through to a manager after all because mumble mumble (I think the alleged debt was too low to be worth the trouble). But he could still set up something for me.
After several minutes of back and forth (I want to connect with the lawyer, he can't help me do that), he managed to maneuver me into almost agreeing to pay them a small monthly amount just to get them off my backs and, as I understood it based on his mumbled sideways assurance, stop all proceedings until my lawyer could speak with theirs.
Then the dummy made the mistake of telling me during the disclaimer before I agreed to the arrangement that "if there are any legal summons against you, they will continue".
I said, "Now, hold on a second..." (did he really think I'd miss that part?) and we discussed it.
Turns out, paying them would do nothing to fix this on my end. It doesn't cease communication, it doesn't stop judgment, it's pointless. Except for PRA, of course, who would have had me wrangled into paying them money on top of whatever other nonsense they opted to try to get past me next time.
Sidenote: be sure you know the exact legal terminology for everything because they'll say repeatedly, "I'm sorry, but I can't use that phrase in my report, you'll have to reword it" (such as "make it stop" when you mean something like "cause all court proceedings to cease and desist"). You have to be specific and spell it out to them. I'm sure that's yet another diversion tactic designed to irritate you into coalescing.
I told them that on those grounds, I refused to enter into any agreements with them until my lawyer had the chance to speak with their lawyer. Well, that was pretty much the end of that.
The joke is, when I asked for the lawyer's number, he said it's the same as the 800 number I'd just called.
"But you can't put me through to the lawyer because he doesn't work there and you have no contact information?"
"So how is my lawyer going to be able to speak with him, then?"
"Ummm.... well, he can call this number."
I can't wait to see what my lawyer has to say about this. I'll ask him if the court documents are real or fake and get back to you.
Never call. Or if you do, and they try to hustle you into an agreement, just say the words "my lawyer". It's almost comical how quickly they back off and can do nothing to help you when you say that.
Instead, do what everyone else on here has been advised to do, and demand, in writing:
- a Debt Validation )Request);
- verifiable proof that a written agreement was entered into by you and PRA stating that you owe PRA a debt, meaning a written agreement that was signed by you personally*;
- a complete account history with itemized charges;
- proof that PRA is legally entitled to collect on the alleged debt in your state;
- proof that PRA is licensed to collect debts in your state;
- and insist that until said validation is received, all collections and prosecution activities must immediately cease, according to the FDCPA and various state laws.
*this is a technicality, but an important one. You owe the originating company (OC). You don't owe PRA. PRA bought the debt. This allowed the OC to discharge/write off the debt as a bad debt, get an IRS tax break, and no longer worry about collecting from you (even if you try to pay them).
For this privilege, the OC received a small amount of money as payment from PRA. PRA bought it very cheaply, then jacks up the price with erroneous interest fees, court fees, etc., to try to get more profit off of you, the unsuspecting victim. Key point: you don't owe PRA. You did not do business with them, purchase services or products from PRA--you did business with the OC that wrote off and discharged your debt! You never signed an agreement between yourself and PRA stating you agreed to owe them money. PRA just bought the amount you once owed another company. (Think about it.)
And when you send that letter to PRA for Debt Validation,
Do Not Sign It!
If you sign it, they can scan, copy and paste your signature on a contract and use it against you in court. (Photoshop has some evil aspects and it isn't that hard to forge a signature nowadays.)
The irony is, I've no problem with the idea of setting up an arrangement to take care of the actual original balance (which is miles lower than what PRA claims). But since the OC sold my debt to PRA (confirmed when I called the OC afterward to inquire about my last payment made and other details), closed the account long ago and discharged the debt, I couldn't even pay them if I desperately wanted to!
They have no record of my debt anymore. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. The OC can see that I once had a credit card with them, and to whom they sold it, but nothing else.
As far as I'm concerned, that means it does not exist, and PRA is using illegal tactics to try to embezzle funds out of me and everyone else they are scamming.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 04/28/2014 04:25 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Portfolio-Recovery-Associates/Norfolk-Virginia-23541/Portfolio-Recovery-Associates-Sends-Fraudulent-Court-Papers-as-Scare-Tactic-Norfolk-Virgi-1142465. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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