Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA) – Apothaker – Just Another Debt Collector?

I am a 37 yr old single disabled female collecting ssd, I currently force myself to work part time 20 hrs a wk to earn as close to the 1,000 a month that I am allowed by ssd. I own a home, inherited with no mortgage, and a car, but with the cost of my med bills, prescriptions, and property taxes, house hold costs ect. I am strapped to the last penny. I do all I can to keep my head a float. When I became ill and was waiting for my ssd to go to trial, I was living on savings,and household items I could sell, so long story short ,I had three charge cards that went deliquent. I havent made payments on any, hoping that I am nearing my seven year mark about 2015, and my credit damage is already done, and as I said prior there was no extra cash to do the settlements they were offering me by paper. (the total debt for all three cards is approx $5,000) $1,400, $1,600, & $2,000. Maurcies , Capital One, and Kohls. Kohls after I told them I was sick, I havent heard from them since. Maurices and Cap One, call daily and send letters monthly, ( they have also sold credit collectors more than once).Unfortunately, yesterday I recieved a letter from Apothaker & Associates out of Mount Laurel NJ. It states they are collecting for Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC, Originally for World Financial Network Bank/Maurices.

It states they have been retained for the $1,438.92 as listed in the letter. It doesnt say I am being sued, It says it is a law firm engaged in Debt Collection. I know they want to scare me, but, I googled Apothaker & Associates and all of the results were horrible scary and resulted in lawsuits that needed legal representation. SO here we are four years later and I get this letter. The majority of their trials are dismissed because they apparently lie, or arent properly licensed. This is stress I dont need with my health.

Is it possible these guys are just another debt collector? Or will they be looking to sue me four years later? Also I have read I should mail them a certified letter asking for proof that the debt is mine, copys of transactiondates and amounts? Please advise what you think my best route is, if the safest way is a $10 a month plan I will do it, but if its just a collection firm, I dont mind trying to ride out the remaining three years. Thank you for your time in advance, I appreciate any help and advice you can provide for me. I know you hear sob stories all day, but I appreciate your help and time, Thank you!

—Anastasia

Your WFNB account appears to have been sold to Portfolio Recovery Associates who has hired the debt collection law firm Apothaker and Associates, who is just another debt collector in what appears to be a long line of collection agencies you have been getting calls and letters from.

 

WFNB, Kohls and Capital One all assign or sell unpaid credit card debts.

The way your credit card debts have been tossed around from one debt collector to the next is pretty typical. The Kohls account falling off the grid is the only unusual part of the background info you provided (thanks for being so thorough with that).

 

Portfolio Recovery and associates is a debt buyer. They buy up bad debts with investment capital and take the risk that they will be able to get enough people to pay old debts in order to turn a profit. The fact that they have sent your account of to an attorney debt collection firm, Apothaker and Associates, does suggest that they are willing to sue you in order to collect on their investment.

 

Is Apothaker and Associates just another collection agency? Yes and no. Debt collection law firms sue as part of their collection activity. They also act just like a regular non attorney collection agency. This means they do not always sue. They just send debt collection letters and make collection calls to collect.

 

Sending a small amount of money each month to keep a debt collector at bay.

Paying a small amount of money each month on old debts like this is not a good idea. Especially with your hardship and financial situation. Here are my concerns for you:

  • Paying 10 dollars a month would not likely even go to principal. Your paying each month but the amount owed grows anyway.
  • Even if the 10 dollars was fully applied to the amount owed, you would pay that for about 12 years.
  • Depending on laws in your state, making a payment, even a small one, to a debt buyer like Portfolio Recovery, could reset the clock for the statute of limitations (SOL) that may be nearing for you. If you can pass that SOL time line, you remove most of the risk you would be sued for the debt (they can sue but you could defend it with the fact the debt is now time barred from using the courts).

So, ten bucks is not going to cut it, and it does not sound like you can spare that amount anyway. Meds and household bills are more important anyway.

 

Sending a debt validation request to Apothaker and Associates collecting for Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA).

I would suggest you follow through with sending the validation request to Apothaker and Assoc. They are working for Portfolio Recovery who bought the debt from WFNB, or some other debt buyer. Debt buyers like PRA are having an increasingly difficult time proving their collection claims in court. The difficulty stems from the fact that they often do not purchase more than a couple of line items in an excel spread sheet. These spread sheets are terribly inadequate for proving a claim. They might as well say “you owe because I say so, and the amount I say you owe is valid because I said it is”. Courts are not letting that fly when these debt buyers and debt collectors are challenged correctly.

 

Sending the debt validation request now might prevent this from ever getting to court. Just like an excel spread sheet is insufficient to prove a debt buyer like Portfolio Recovery’s claim in court, it is often not going to have the details they need to meet verification requirements. That does not mean they wont try. Apothaker and Associates are skilled debt collectors. You may get a response to your request.

 

The entire debt collection pipeline for debt buying relies on getting the “low hanging fruit” to pay.

Low hanging fruit when it comes to debt collection defines the 90 plus percent of debts that are not challenged. More often then not, debt collectors, and especially debt buyers and the collection agencies they rely on, are going to move on to productive collection files that do not challenge the debt. Because so few people do challenge debts being collected, or the practices used to collect debts, its better for the collectors bottom line to spend resources chasing revenue producing files. Most debt collectors do not spare time chasing the small percentage of people that don’t just roll over and pay.

 

Apothaker and Associates does sue to collect debt. It is highly likely that Portfolio Recovery authorized them to file suit in order to collect if Apothaker elects to. The amount that you referenced Apothaker said you owe in the collection letter is pretty small. If you send a debt validation request it may cause them to move on to other files, but then again it may not. I have seen ridiculous scenarios play out for collecting balances far smaller than yours.

 

Sending a validation request is simple. Be sure to send certified return receipt. Keep a copy of the letter you sent and the green return receipt card in a safe place. If you hear from them in response to your request, or do not get a response from them on the request, but continue to get collection calls and letters as if you sent no request, come back and post updates to this page in the comment section below.

 

I have a couple of questions for you. Your answers may help me provide more feedback.

 

What state do you live in?

 

Your reference to 7 years and 2015 read to me like you are referring to how long these negative items will stay on your credit report. Am I interpreting this correctly?

 

Anyone dealing with Portfolio Recovery, or Apothaker and Associates, can ask questions and get feedback below.

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Comments

  1. jsandvold says:

    I just received a second notice from Portfolio Receovery Associates that states I am under legal review and have until the end of March 2013 (the 20th actually) to respond or they are going to possibly pursue legal action. This notice states that I owe $9,168.93, but then it offers three settlement options or monthly payments. I called them today 3/16/13 and the rep I spoke with told me that they do not have any of my account information from GE Capital who owns the CareCredit credit card they are attempting to collect on. This doesn’t sound right to me…They sent the first notice January 15, 2013, can I still request a letter of debt validation or was I required to do that within 30 days? She also stated that they may or may not take legal action and may just simply continue to collect.

    Not really sure what to do and the monthly amount that they offered me would take almost 5 years to pay off and that just is way too long, but they did not seem to be willing to come down on any type of settlement lump sum offer either.

    I appreciate any help!

    Thanks!

    • If you are concerned about whether Portfolio Recovery Associates is legitimately collecting as the owner of your CareCredit account, you should seek validation of the debt with PRA. You can also reach GE Capital direct and verify who they placed, or sold the account to. If they tell you anyone other than Portfolio Recovery Associates it may not mean PRA is collecting illegitimately. It just may mean that they bought it from someone else. My bet would be GE tells you that they sent it to Portfolio Recovery.

      What was the lump sum settlement off in the PRA letter?
      What amount can you come up with?

      Post your answers and lets go from there. There are a couple of ways to approach getting this resolved at a more affordable level.

  2. Ronni Snyder says:

    Hi, I am due in court tomorrow as Apothtaker is suing me for $ 1,100. I opened a credit card for my husband to buy a computer when he was laid off so that he could get a job tht required a laptop. He ended up getting laid off again when the auto industry was bad and stopped paying on the card. I have never received a bill from this law firm and was confused when I picked up the notice for a hearing scheduled for tomorrow. I have asked Apothtaker to send me a bill and I have yet to receive one. They told me the bill was the notice to appear in court. I have talked to the courts who tell me that I can ask for a new date, since it is impossible for me to be at the hearing as I am working away from home. They also told me if I am not going to contest the money owed then I didn’t have to show up. Apothtaker said that I can pay the full amount to avoid the courts but I am still confused about the money that I owe them. I would like some advise on my next move. I live in Pennsylvania.

    • Ronni – If it were me in your shoes, I would get the court to extend you more time. If you don’t, it sounds like a judgment could very well be entered against you while you are out town.

      You have concerns with the amount being claimed as owed. Because you are being sued, the way to go about getting evidence of, and an accounting for, the amount you are being sued for, is through a formal court process. This is unfamiliar territory for most people. You can certainly obtain and study the rules for court procedure and have a go at getting Apothaker and Associates to prove up their claim, but I also recommend consulting with an experienced debt collection attorney in Pennsylvania. I can email you contact info for the type of attorney you will want to speak with if you post a reply with the name of a nearby larger city.

      You did not mention if Apothaker and Assoc are collection on behalf of Portfolio Recovery Associates, or some other debt buyer. Who is Apothaker representing?

  3. I recently received a letter from an attorney, McLemore & Edington PLLC, from Knoxville, TN. The letter stated they are representing PRA and it is an attempt to collect a debt of $4100. Prior to this letter I have received 2 others actually from PRA, but didn’t respond. My debt is from a GE Capital/ SAMs Club credit card that went delinquent in early 2011 and at that time was only $3500. I had payments set up with GE originally, but they got too expensive an I had to stop paying. I have had no contact with PRA other than the now 3 letters.

    Does it sound like I am about to be sued or is this just an attempt to scare me into calling them? Also, I have read here and other places to send a debt verification letter as a first step. Is this a good idea?

    I live in Nashville, TN.

    Thank you.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      William – When you receive collection letters directly from Portfolio Recovery Associates there is not often an immediate risk of being sued. Those letter do often represent an opportunity to respond to PRA and work out some type of settlement. Now that you are receiving collection notices from an in state attorney hired by Portfolio Recovery Assoc., you are definitely at a higher risk of being sued to collect. You can resolve the debt with the attorney contacting you if you are in the financial position to do so, but because they now have assigned collection efforts to the attorney, the deals are not often as good as they would have been by catching this earlier.

      There are some other angles to consider if you cannot resolve this with McLemore and Edington for an amount you can afford, but I can cover that if it becomes necessary.

      What is your goal? Would you like to resolve the debt? Post your answer in a comment reply and lets go from there. My feedback about sending a debt validation letter, and other options, will be more on point once you do.

  4. My husband has been receiving phone calls from Portfolio Recovery but they never leave a voicemail. As his wife, I handle all the bills and unfortunately my husband’s business has taken a huge drop in business and our income for paying our necessary bills are paid with my paycheck. I support a family of 4 and have had a difficult time paying on credit cards and department store cards. I also have been unable to get to the post office to see if any letters have been sent due to I recently had emergency surgery and have a recovery time of 6-8 weeks. Should I call the number back that has been repeatedly calling my husband’s phone or should I see if I received a letter first? I cannot pay whatever the amount is in full nor can I pay a large monthly payment either. What can I do in this situation? I live in Tenneseee if that helps. Thank you so much!

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Jessica – Portfolio Recovery Associates will often settle collection accounts for a reduced amount. I would check your mail before calling. Many of their collection letters will lay out several different options for repayment or settlement. It will give you a starting place to consider what you would be able to successfully budget before calling to seek some type of resolution.

      Post a comment update with what you find in the mail (even if nothing), and lets go from there.

  5. Hello, Great information and very helpful. I too have been receiving letters from PRA for a carecredit account. At this time my husband and I are both out of work. We have been getting some part time income from side jobs but nothing consistent. I spoke with a representative months ago and explained our situation. We are not denying the debt. We would like to pay it off when we can. At the time they seemed willing to work with us. however the phone calls are now 5 to 6 a day. they will not leave a voicemail message and the letter now says second notice account selected for legal review. I live in
    Washington State. The amount on the letter is less than $1000. What steps should I take to by us more time before they decide to sue? We are both trying to get back to work however our mortgage payments take up our whole monthly income at this time and a roof over our heads is more important that an old credit card debt. Again we would love to pay it when we can. It is our debt however right now we just don’t have a dime to spare. But we don’t want to risk being taken to court either. Thank you

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Amanda – Portfolio Recovery Associates does sue. The increased calls and the letter suggesting legal “review” may/may not mean your account is heading in the direction of a lawsuit any faster than before. If you receive a letter from a Washington debt collection attorney regarding the account with PRA, you will know things have escalated to one step away from being sued.

      Who was the original creditor for the debt PRA now has?
      When did you last make a payment on the debt?

      When it comes to slowing the collection process, or resolving the debt in the most affordable way, the two can be at odds. I can better respond with more feedback about this once you post a comment reply with answers to those above questions.

      • Amanda says:

        The original debt was with care credit. A line of credit we had through our vet. The last payment made to the original debt collector was over 2 years ago and we have made no payments to PRA. I spoke with them on the phone over 6 months ago around October and explained our situation and they agreed to wait a month or so and then they would contact us. Since then our situation has not much improved and I have not answered the phone. I hate when they ask if we can just borrow the money to pay them off. I realize we have not honored our obligation on the original debt and this in not something we take lightly. but I just don’t have a dime to squeeze out right now and if there is some way to by time without getting ourselves into further trouble with them I am greatful for any input. Thank you again for your time and information.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Amanda – Sometimes you really just have to take something like this in stride. If money is this tight, it makes little sense to agree to any form of payment with Portfolio Recovery and Assoc.

          You can ride this out until things turn around and you are better able to commit to resolving the debt with PRA.

          Take notes of your calls from them, the dates and times. If you speak with them – what was said.

          Are the phone calls from Portfolio Recovery resulting in any messages being left?

          • Amanda says:

            NO messages at all. I answered the phone once knowing it was them and pretended to be someone else kind of just to see if they would leave a message. they asked for either my husband or I and I said neither were home but would return shortly and they would not leave a name or number just said they would call back. I really do appreciate all your information. The notice of “legal action” just made my heart drop. If it is something that takes them time to process I am sure we will be fine. It is looking like a little later this year we should be just fine to take care of this debt, but until then we will just keep doing what we are doing and keep our fingers crossed they will process their end slowly. Thank you again so very much

            • Michael Bovee says:

              Amanda – Post updates to this comment thread as things progress. Some tips and feedback I may be able to offer could be useful once I know what is new with your situation. Keep positive. You will get through this.

  6. i was sued by henriques and hunt from san jose ca.i live in north hoillywood for an old credit card from chase anyway i answer the summons by a general deniel and send them some discoveries and after 30 days they answer me and they said that they didnt have answer any of my discoveries questions what can i do now?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      julio – It would be a good idea to run your situation by an experienced collection defense attorney. There are instances where a debt collector cannot substantiate their claims sufficiently to win in court. It sounds like you may be at the goal line for getting your case dismissed, but need to know how to get over the goal line. Are you dealing with the Hunt and Henriques debt collection firm on a debt with Portfolio Recovery and Associates?

      • Help please! My civil suit dismissed and pra is calling again on same debt. They say even though it was diissed the debt is still valid.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          It is not uncommon for a collection case in the courts to get dismissed, but for the debt to still be collectable and to remain on your credit report.

          Please post more information about the PRA dismissal, and what the court said at the time.

  7. Hi,

    Yesterday I received a advertising kind of letter from an Attorner in TN state stating that A law suit has been filed on my name by unifund ccr llc and provided a case number in it and if I need any assistence I can contact the Attroney for defending.

    When I searched the given case number in that letter in Shelby County General Session Court , TN online..It showd that a “Civil Warrant- Other” case type has been filed by “Unifund Ccr Llc” against me on March 28, 2013 and the Coutrt date as “UNASSIGNED”.

    Till now I never received any letter from “Unifund Ccr Llc” and when I check my credit report today from “Experian” and “Trans Union”..It shows 2 negative reports, one showing( Gas Bill– Which I already settled with a debt collecotr ) Paid and another one (Capitol One) showing Closed and Sold to Portfolio Recovery Associates, which I am working with them to resolve. Apart from this nothing is showing on the credit report.
    So I have no idea what this lawsuit is for.

    Since I was not summoned any letters from “Unifund Ccr Llc”/ Plaintiff, what should I do now?
    should I wait till I receive a letter from them or should I call Plaintiff attorney or court to find out what this lawsuit is for ?

    Appreciated your help here

    Thanks,
    Jay

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Jay – No, I would not wait to get served the lawsuit. Nor would I call the debt collector suing. You can go down to the court house and get a copy of the lawsuit. First thing will be to identify who Unifund bought the debt from and match that up with any creditor you had in the past. If it is not your debt, your solution will be simpler. If it is your debt, you have a couple of options to consider, but post a comment update with what you learn and lets go from there.

      • Michael.. Thank you very much for your quick response and appreciated your help.

        Now I am staying in Atlanta,GA and I don’t have time to go to Shelby county court in TN.I stayed in TN state only for 8 months and left that place 1 yr back.
        Is there a way that I can get a copy of the lawsuit?

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Jay – Call the court on Monday morning and ask about your options given you are no longer local. Do you have a friend still living in the area?

  8. Michael..One hour back I have posted a question regarding a lawsuit issue..but for some reason it was deleted now and I don’t see it here. What is the procedure to post a question?

    Please let me know as it is very urgent for me.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Jay – Anyone posting to this site for the first time automatically gets stuck in moderation and must be manually approved. I set it up this way due to all the spam that comes in. As long as you use the same email address for commenting, your posts will now appear right away due to approving your first (exceptions are if a link is included in a comment – also due to overwhelming spam).

      Comment feedback is usually delayed on weekends.

  9. Dear Michael, I hope you can help. I too am dealing with Apothaker& Assoc. and its turning my life into a nightmare. They have a judgement against me for 5,900 for Lvnv ( an old sears acct?) I understand I do have a bill with sears and trust me I know the mistakes Ive made and I really am not a bad person there have been so many things in the past few years that I have had to deal with ( not that its an excuse) its just so many other things had to take priority and now they have frozen my checking acct. for the past 3 weeks with my paycheck and the only money i have in it. I have made many attempts to do as they asked some of which I feel i regret now but even so my acct is still frozen and im at a standstill im not sure where to turn. Thank you for at least having a spot where people can find answers or at least just vent…

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Trish – There are just not good options for handling the legal collections process when they reach this stage. How much is frozen? Are you set up on auto deposit for paychecks? Stop that immediately if you are. You will have to bank a little creatively until you get this resolved.

      I would highly recommend you speak with a consumer law attorney – one with debt defense experience – about your options at this point. I can send you contact info to the type of attorney you should be speaking with for a free consult. Send an email reply to the comment notification you get with your state and city. I will reply to that with the closest ones I find.

      How long has the judgment been in place?

      • Hi michael It took me awhile to reply to your last response im sorry.. the judgement was in 2009.
        I had the checking acct unfrozen and set up a payment plan with Apoth&assoc. I hope i did the right thing.. each week i feel differently about the situation but am trying my best to do whats right. I also
        stopped my directdeposit to this checking acct, not wanting to ever be in that situation again.
        I had thought of going to see CCC to see if that might help me get on the right path but then someone
        mentioned they just take your money and pay tiny amt on each bill leaving you in the same situation.
        Ive also started picking up as much overtime as i can to help .. Is there anyway we can go back to being 10 yrs old again? lol oooo i dont know

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Trish – Thanks for helping me flashback to 10 years old! How cool would it be to have the only concern for the day be the math quiz in Mrs. Boyles class, followed by hoping enough of my buddies in the neighborhood did not have homework to pull together enough to make 2 teams for wiffle-ball in the cul-de-sac!

          Dealing with judgment debt that reaches legal collection efforts, like wage garnishment and bank account levy, is a triage situation with very limited options to stop the bleeding. Given the fact your backed into a corner with Apothaker freezing your bank account, getting a payment set up to prevent that from happening again is a good thing.

          Currently, getting help from a credit counseling agency would not be appropriate to deal with your judgment debt, but I am working on an initiative that could hopefully impact CCCS applicability to this type of debt in the future. Using a debt management plan through a CCCS may benefit you with other debts though. Whoever said CCCS will just take your money and make smaller payments is correct, but that is not the real benefit to CCCS plans. Getting a lower monthly payment and a defined period of when your debts are paid off (less than 60 months), are the main benefits with accounts that qualify for the plan. Are all of your debts now with debt collectors? Do you still have active unsecured debts you are making payments on to the original creditors? If so, what are the interest rates?

  10. I had an Amazon account with GE Capital with a balance of $1797 that I failed to pay about 9 months ago . I recently checked my Experian credit report to find a collections agency (Portfolio Recovery & Affiliates) was listed on my report showing I owe that amount as well. I am guessing GE sold my account to Portfolio. I have the cash to pay the balance in full and would like to have both the GE Capital account and the Portfolio collections account removed from my credit report. A couple questions:
    1. Should I start by sending a debt validation letter to Portfolio or rather a pay for delete letter?
    2. Is a non-response to the debt validation letter considered an acceptable reason to dispute with the 3 credit bureau?
    3. If I pay Portfolio the full amount (assuming they agree to a pay for delete) do they have the ability to remove the GE account information as well? (ie the 30, 60, 90, and FP marks on my credit report).
    Any advice is appreciated. Thanks

    • Michael Bovee says:

      John – Portfolio Recovery is not going to be able to have any say at all with how GE reports to the bureaus. They are also not likely going to agree to remove their own reporting.

      I understand the desire to get this removed from the credit report, but depending on your credit goals in the next 24 months, the impact on your access to new credit products is not going to be crimped too much if this is the only negative you have – after it is resolved.

      PRA buys debts. Paying in full or settling the account for less is not going to matter much at this point. Getting it resolved and showing zero balance owed combined with time is what you need.

      I am not sure what you intend to accomplish with the debt validation letter. It is not necessary for what you have planned and will provide no credit reporting benefits. What is it you understand you would accomplish with sending one?

      • Thanks for the quick response!

        I have read collection companies that are not able to provide verification of debt often delete the account.

        If I settle with Portfolio will GE also be updated on my credit report to reflect paid or paid in full?

        Is it worth a shot to send a pay for delete and if they deny negotiate a smaller settlement amount? What is a good starting point with my debt being $1797?

        Also, since I have yet to be contacted by Portfolio what is the best method of contacting them? Letter, phone call? I’d like to resolve this as quickly as possible. I have saved a large sum of cash to put a down payment on a house and only noticed this because I pulled my credit scores prior to trying to obtain a loan.

        Thanks again

        • Michael Bovee says:

          John – Portfolio Recovery will not have much trouble providing verification. While there are some limited instances where a credit report entry will be deleted because of some issues with obtaining the details to meet a validation request, it is not common.

          If Portfolio bought the debt, your GE credit report entry should show as charged off and zero balance owed right now. What does it show?

          I would not send a pay for delete letter to PRA with the fallback strategy of settling for less. They will not pay for delete. Telegraphing you would pay in full, and that you want something (the credit report entry removed), puts you in a weaker position to negotiate your settlement.

          I would target 40% as a reasonable expectation to settle with Portfolio Recovery. Calling them is the recommended way to start the negotiation.

          The main phone number for Portfolio Recovery Associates is 800-772-1413.

          A couple of things I recommend you read before settling with them:
          Get settlements in writing
          Paying your settlement

          • I am in the same position as John. I would like my debt that has been sold to PRA removed from my credit report by paying it outright. They have told me they do not do this, and I see you’ve stated that above as well. Is this an absolute for them? Do you know of any circumstances where they will agree to do this? I am considering having my attorney reach out to get this resolved with them.

            • Michael Bovee says:

              Erica – Yes, it is pretty much an absolute. Portfolio Recovery is a furnisher of credit reporting information. As such, they have a contract with the bureaus that they are not going to jeopardize over one off credit reporting removals. They are obligated to report accurately by federal laws as well.

              What are your credit goals that you are looking to accomplish?

              • I am trying to improve my credit score as this debt collection listing has impacted it significantly. I am concerned that just paying it off in settlement is not going to increase my score quickly enough.

                • Michael Bovee says:

                  That’s why I am asking. What is it you are trying to accomplish with your credit score? Home ownership, refinance, car loan? Resolving a debt like this will benefit or delay differently.

                  Who was the original creditor? How long ago was the account last paid?

                  • I am trying to improve credit for a car lease (I recently just paid off my existing car loan but need an additional car), and home ownership sometime next year. The original creditor was WNFB and last payment was in 2011 I believe. I have been trying to get this resolved for the past year but it has been passed from collector to collector and I haven’t had any luck with having it removed entirely.

                    • Michael Bovee says:

                      Okay. Settling this with Portfolio Recovery now will only improve your ability to accomplish your goal of home ownership next year. On the car lease front, what is your current credit score?

                      The WFNB negative reporting of account charge off would only be around 18 months old at this point, so that part of it is still a factor. While I do not think you can get PRA to remove their own reporting, I am not so sure that you would get a decent score bump even if it did not exist.

                      You could have resolved with any of the earlier collectors and prevented PRA from reporting a new negative trade line (if WFNB was the one that sent the account out for collection a few times before selling the debt).

                      How immediate a need is the other vehicle? Have you already applied for the lease and been declined? Is the lease going to be through the same finance company you just paid off?

  11. I just received a summons notice asking for an answer to complaint issued by Portfolio Recovery Associated asignee of GE Retail Bank for $1811.75 and $247 in court fees for nonpayment. I am scared and unsure what to do. I lost my job 3 yrs ago and was able to make payments until I ran out of money, am a full time student with current loans, never have more than 100$ in my bank account at any time, and no means to afford an attorney let alone make payments. I am confused this document is dated 7-13-13 but I just received it on 8-14 and says I have 30 days. I have a car but don’t own that and only have an IRA that will cover the amount… what should I do? My husband and I are living check to check and have little to no disposable income. I need the car to get to school so that I may graduate and start working. I never received any letters or intent of legal action until I got letters saying I was being sued via different attorneys. I checked my credit report and saw the account was charged off in Jan of this year and never even was made aware of that. Scared and not sure what to do…please help! I reside in Ga and have not been able to make any payments since the end of last yr. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel that won’t result in Ch 7? I am not trying to hide from my mistakes just unsure what is the best course of action since I have zero money in which to even get assistance.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Tiffany – Chapter 7 would not be worth it for a debt this size. Are there other unsecured debts out there than this one (in collection or being paid on time)? If so, what are the amounts?

      The 7/13 date is likely the day the attorney for Portfolio Recovery Associates filed with the court. The date you are served the complaint is generally the date you go by as starting the few weeks you have to respond and answer the complaint with the court.

      Your credit report is already affected by the account going to collections. It would just suck to have your credit be further damaged by a court judgment over this amount (judgment will create a new negative that will last for another 7 years).

      Can you fathom any possible resources you can tap to settle this for say 70% of the balance? What if you could buy a couple of months to come up with the cash by filing a general answer to the complaint on your own?

      What would it look like for your monthly budget and ability to meet necessities if you had to agree to a monthly payment as a stipulation to the judgment?

      • No, this is the only debt that I have causing a problem. The other debts I have are a car but that is being paid on time every month as well as a few shared credit cards with my husband but they have no balances on them. My immediate problem is that I have no other means to come up with the money other than my IRA for a penalty or wait for a tax refund the first of the year or 6 months for a school refund. I can use my IRA I did not want to but I have no other choice but I am at a loss as to how to answer to the summons or if I can contact the attorney listed on the summons and offer to pay to them directly. I hate that I did not get prior notice that I would be sued and that is what scares me most of all I don’t want to mess up anything and then have some garnishment on my bank account or whatever.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          You can often ask the court clerk if there is a form available to answer the complaint. You have to create a controversy in your answer sufficient to overcome a summary judgment. Many people will focus on the amount claimed being owed as that controversy – as in I deny that I owe this amount. Check to see if there is a free law clinic at your college. You may be able to get some help there.

          With no other debt BK is off the table in my opinion. Even if you agreed to a stipulated judgment and monthly payments, you would be okay as long as you did not miss any, or pay late. That would prevent bank account garnishment. Just be sure to be proactive, whether in or out of court.

  12. Hi, I am being sued by apothaker and assoc. for ge captial retail bank for 3826.00 My question is,
    how likely is it that they will show up at the hearing, since I am about 3hrs from philadelphia pa?
    I am located in pa.
    Thanks

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Todd – They took the time to sue you so it is highly likely they will show for the hearing. Debt collection attorney firms will often contract limited appearances to attorneys nearer the court houses that are several hours drive time away.

      What is your goal with this account?

      • Hi,
        I had my hearing today, and you are right
        they sent some lawyer from harrisburg.
        I won my case, But now they have 30 days to appeal.
        I also received a call from apothakers office today, after my hearing was over
        saying they are calling to collect a debt ! They gave the file number, which was the same number as the debt I was being sued for. Question, do they use the same file number for more than one debt ?

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Congrats Todd!

          I cannot speak to whether Apothaker and Associates would use the same file number regarding multiple debts they may have placed with them, but it would be unusual for sure.

          Was the lawsuit dismissed with or without prejudice?

          • The judge said, judgement for the defense, then told me they have 30 days to appeal. She ruled in my favor after I asked to see the original contract with my signature on it.

        • First of all, congratulations Todd on winning your case! I too am being sued on behalf of GE Bank, except mine is by Portfolio Recovery. I was wondering if you would share with me exactly how you won your case. If you could tel me the exact wording you used I would be so very grateful. Thanks so much.

  13. My husband is in the underwriting stage on a new construction loan. We received a call yesterday from the title company saying there was a judgment against me attached to the property we own. I contacted Apothaker & Assoc regarding this and they said it was closed. They gave me 3 additional numbers to call and they all said it was closed. The title company has requested something in writing from Apothaker & Assoc stating it is closed; they got this verbally when they called themselves. Apothaker & Assoc stated I have to contacted the debt collector, Arrow Financial Services. They are no longer in business per the BBB as of 6/2012. What can I do to correct this??

  14. Good morning. I received a call from Apothker and Assoc. PC about 2 weeks ago stating that they are trying to recover approx $1996.61 from a CC ( US Air) from 10 yrs ago. I have had a very bad string the last 10 years ( 3 major surgeries, 1 car accident and 2 stints of unemployment – 1 for 2.5 years)> I am not working full time and very blessed to have the job I have. I am still just making ends meet on a biweekly basis. I told them I would be willing to try $25 a month , in good faith, and as any more money comes along, take care of my debt. They are asking for 30% down but I was told if I could pay $50-100 , they would consider a payment plan.

    After reading all the correspondence above, I am scared to give them my checking acct information. If they have it, they can freeze accounts? Can they take out a payment monthly even if I dont authorize it? Any suggestions or advice would be greatly welcomed. Like many of those above, I am not a cheat or a bad person, just someone with some hard luck who just wants to rebuild their credit and make a decent living.

    Thank you again!

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Lynne – Before offering more thorough feedback, can you tell me is Apothaker and Associates is trying to collect on a judgment? Were you ever sued for this debt? Knowing the answer will help me target my feedback.

      • I apologize as I did not see this response til today! No,there was not a lawsuit, nor a judgement. They stated that they have now had an attorney look at it and if I dont pay, in full, they will sue. Please also note that I did copy the request form and send it certified to the agents attention. They called me today , on my work phone..( NOT GOOD) and I told them they could call me on my cell tomorrow during my lunch hour . LMK if you need any more information..Thank you again so much. This site has been so helpful

        • Michael Bovee says:

          No problem, and thanks for posting the additional details. The issue I see, given the information you shared so far, is that this debt is likely passed the statute of limitations for them to sue you in court in order to collect. Post a comment reply with the state you live in and the last payment date on the account.

          If Apothaker and Associates are making threats of suing on a debt they cannot legitimately collect through the courts, you have a few options to consider:

          You could send them a cease communication letter and they will have to stop contacting you for collection (other than through the courts, but you could defend that as passed the SOL).
          You could contact a consumer law attorney to bring a collection violation claim against them.

          • Good afternoon. I am in Pennsylvania. They are stating that I made a payment of $425 on 2-1-2011. I sent the paperwork certified and it was received. I am still waiting on the paperwork for this debt that they are collecting. I got another call from the collector who’s initials are LD and she states that she is from a law firm that is attempting to collect a debt. I finally got in touch w/ her and she now states that all the paperwork has been received and they are sending to me either today or Monday via USPS. I have to call and confirm receipt upon which they “30 day countdown” will start from which I received. That’s all I know for now but wanted to keep you updated.. Thank you again for this service! I don’t know if you realize how much we all appreciate it.

            I assume that since I made a payment in 2011 I cannot order a cease letter. So therefore any further advice is greatly appreciated!

            Thx

            • Michael Bovee says:

              Lynne – I would fist confirm through your own records that you indeed made that payment back then. Even if you did, I would encourage you to contact a consumer attorney familiar with debt defenses in your state. Most of this type of consumer law attorney will offer a no cost initial consult. Calling one to discuss your options just makes sense at this point. State law will vary on what reages a debt, and you need to know what that is at this point.

              If you post a reply with the name of a nearby city I can email you contact info to an attorney.

              • I am in the Main Line of Pa…Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Villanova are close. I also work in King of Prussia. Thank you again for all your assistance. I still have not received the paperwork so the “30″ day countdown has not started. Sending the paperwork certified was an invaluable piece of advice. Happy Thanksgiving and Ill be sure to let you know how it goes! I look forward to hearing from you

                • HI..I am still waiting on paperwork . I am in the Main Line of Pa…Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Villanova are close. I also work in King of Prussia. Thank you again for all your assistance. I still have not received the paperwork so the “30″ day countdown has not started. Sending the paperwork certified was an invaluable piece of advice. I look forward to hearing from you

                  • Michael Bovee says:

                    Lynne – I sent you an email with contact info to the type of consumer attorney you would want to consult with. Sorry I missed your comment from 11/20.

                    • Michael. I will check that email. Thank you so much again for all your assistance. You do a great service for many! Happy Holidays

                      Lynne

            • Michael

              Good morning. I did reach out to contact the Debt Attny. that you referred in my email. The question I now have it a Cavalry SPV has brought a civil suit against me for the same amt that Apothaker was handling. I am confused b/c I sent a registered letter to Apothaker for the files, which I never received. I followed up w time/date stamped fax. Again , nothing. Is Cavalry now able to sue on behalf of Apothaker? I have a court date set for 4-21-14. I guess I am looking for guidance on what comes next? Do I just wait to hear from the debt atty and go from there?

              Thanks in advance. I appreciate all your assistance.

              Lynne

              • Michael Bovee says:

                Lynne – Now that you have been sued, do not wait for the consumer attorney you have been looking to connect with to reach back to you. You call the attorney during business hours, and several times this week. If you do not get a follow up by Friday, time to move on to connecting with another attorney, as that one may be wrapped up in a trial, or out of the office. Please do post an update with how you progress,or if you need help locating someone else with experience to assist you.

  15. In its 17 years, PRA has shelled out $3.1 billion to buy $75.2 billion in account balances. The company aims to collect twice as much as the purchase price. To collect this amount, it appears that employees are taking their collection techniques to the extreme and several lawsuits have been filed against PRA due to abusive behavior and FDCPA violations. http://www.castlelaw.net/blog/are-you-receiving-harassing-calls-from-portfolio-recovery-associates-.cfm

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Rachael – With roughly 20 years of experience working directly with people to resolve debt and credit issues, I find PRA to be one of the better actors in the debt collection space. Not that they are without issue, virtually every debt collector has had some. But Portfolio Recovery Associates is one of the easier debt buyers out there for consumers to communicate with to resolve unpaid bills.

  16. I wrote yesterday regards two accounts still in collection. As I read statements in your blogs I came across in item regarding payment in full or settlement on balance (John, Aug 14th) and getting it resolved showing zero balance combined with time being best option…. I indicated I had settled one of my debts below balance and have collectors letter agreeing to amount, was not aware they could/would report debt as pd less than full balance and charged off….you indicated in your response from the 11th that this was common practice
    According to my report MidlandMCM currently holds the debts in collection and they have re-aged one of the accounts.
    As I do not currently have income WHAT is NEXT BEST STEP.
    *in 2010 when I asked for validation on one of the accounts (verbal) their agent indicated they did not have specifics, just account number and amount of debt
    *both original creditor and debt collector list same debt on my consumer report, is that common practice ?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Dee – It is common to have an original creditor report your delinquency as a charge off after what is generally 180 days of nonpayment. If the creditor sells the legal rights to your debt, they should update their charged off reporting to show that there is zero owed to them, as it is not. They sold the debt, so nothing is owed to them anymore. The debt buyers who purchase charged off debts will often report a new collection account. The balance owed on a purchased debt should show on their reporting, not the original creditors. Be sure that is the case with your credit report – as what should occur in these situations – doesn’t always.

      If your goal is to tackle the unresolved collection accounts that remain, and get your credit report updated to show that, you will need to call the debt owners, Midland in this case, and negotiate a pay off amount when you are ready to fund it, or a settlement with terms (very doable). What are the balances showing as owed today, and what is your cash flow situation?

      • Currently cash flow is non-existent. Balances are incorrect as I stated earlier, however, it may be the only point they are willing to work from to negotiate the pay off.
        I found your articles and blogs informative and helped clarified my approach to this issue.

  17. I’m hoping you can help me. I have 3-4 accounts with Portfolio Recovery Assoc. These accounts are in my husbands name only, but I take care of the bills and finances. They have been talking to me about these accounts. I have been unable to work for the last 4 years due to a disability. I have been denied disability twice, however my lawyer says that there is one more appeal we have and that the judge denied my disability illegally and now we have to wait again to hear from them. Until that time comes, my husbands income is the only income we have.
    In the last month, PRA has filed court documents for 2 of these accounts, the second one came today. I had talked to these people about negotiating accounts when I have a final say on my disability and they said ok. Now we have to go to court, without notice or calling. I believe they tried to call but hung up when I answered.
    My disabilities are for a pain condition, and as such I take pain medications that affect my memory and brain function. I don’t leave the house often because of this.
    I guess what I need is very specific help. I think the amounts are wrong, but don’t have any paperwork to show what the amounts truly are. His first court date is January 13th, 2014. I’m really afraid they can take any money we have, freeze our accounts, and garnish his wages. I don’t have a problem paying these accounts, but I have no way to negotiate so that we are not going to loose everything. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Teresa – Before going too much into negotiating with Portfolio Recovery Associates, I have some questions.

      What are the total balances on the collections with PRA? What are the amounts owed on any other debts in collection? Are you making current payment on other credit cards or unsecured bills, and if so, what are those balances?

      • Michael,
        The first debt is $4570.46 and the second is $5445.93. These are the ones they are taking us to court for so far.
        We have a third one thru them for $4200.79.
        These are all outrageous amounts.
        We have an account with another collection agency where they take $25/mo out of our bank acct. Don’t know why I did that, but again, my judgement is impaired.
        We have 3 store cards with $0 balances and a card thru our bank that is in good standing.
        Situation was, I was laid off in Dec. 2009 after being back to work after 2 months of illness. My health was not good at that time, but I thought I could work. I was wrong. Like so many others, we lived on my husbands wages and supplemented that income with our credit cards. We also had an emergency that put a strain on our finances for which we had to use our credit cards, and at that point, max them out. We tried to keep up, but failed. I applied for disability in May of 2011, after I figured out that there was really no shame in doing so. After being denied twice, we are on my third appeal, and it can take a long time to hear anything from them. My lawyer was as sure as he could be that my case would be approved by the judge, but for reasons I can’t share here, he denied it. That’s why we appealed for a second time. These things take time, but until then we have to live paycheck to paycheck and due to the nature of my husbands work, we don’t know how much each paycheck will be. I’m not trying to run away from our responsibilities, but we would like some consideration, as these banks received a “bail out” from the government, and the collection agencies try to get the full amount that they didn’t earn or even lend us, rather they bought our debt for pennies on the dollar. Not sure how they get away with that, but they do.
        Anyway, let me know if you need any more information.

        Thanks

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Thanks Teresa. Try not to get hung up on bank bailouts and the fact that debt collectors like Portfolio Recovery and Associates can buy up debts on the cheap, and collect the full amount. It is the system we have, and is not going to change in any remarkable way in time for you to work through your current challenges.

          I asked about your other debts in the event that the total balances were enough to make chapter 7 bankruptcy look like a good way to get rid of all this debt and get a fresh start. Lets assume you can get through the bankruptcy in 90 days and for a total cost of 1500.00. You get rid of the roughly 15k of debt that PRA has, and the 2 lawsuits from PRA are gone.

          The alternatives would be to try to work out some form of settlements in a lump sum (best to settle in a single payment when collections are in the courts), but you do not have the money. Can you borrow it?

          You could enter into a stipulated agreement for payments, but it sounds like nothing would be affordable right now. If you could budget for a monthly payment to Portfolio Recovery, what would that amount be (leaving yourself room to replace a flat tire etc)?

          You could defend against the lawsuits, but would want to do that with the assistance of your own attorney, which has a cost that may be better applied to filing bankruptcy or settling.

          Of the options above, bankruptcy would provide the least costly and quickest solution. Have you consulted with a bankruptcy attorney? If so, what is it that you learned that gave you pause from filing? If not, you can talk with a professional by dialing the number to the right. Post an update comment with what you learn and any additional questions at that point.

          • Hi Michael,
            As far as bankruptcy goes, I really don’t want to do that, but depending upon what happens in the next week, we may have no choice.
            Can we negotiate with PRA for minimal payments, and put a stop to these lawsuits? How would that work since the paperwork is already filed. Our breathing room may be $100/mo for all 3 accounts, but that is iffy. Like I said, we live paycheck to paycheck and have eliminated everything that is “extra” such as we quit smoking, don’t have cable tv, and try to keep our bills to a minimum. There are things we have to have, such as internet and phones with data plans, as our daughter is in high school, and they are basically required. There are really no other things we can cut. Our lives right now are a wait and see about my disability since I am unable to work. At that point, we could either settle with them in a lump sum, or stay with the payment plan we negotiate.
            I lie awake at night fretting about this, but feel stuck. If they would just wait, and I’ve told them that, then things could be resolved. This stress is making my health worse, and I could really use some advice.

            Thanks

            • Also, I don’t know if it helps, but we live in Colorado. I have learned that Colorado’s legal system is really flawed and that’s why I’m so afraid of going to court. I’ve never seen a decent outcome from any court proceeding I personally know about.

              • Michael Bovee says:

                Teresa – Plenty of people have navigated their collection issues successfully in Colorado courts. Is there something specific you can point me to?

            • Michael Bovee says:

              Teresa – Once the lawsuit is filed, it is just not something that typically gets stopped or unwound from offering minimal payments. You can often get the payments set up and agreed to in a consent or stipulation to judgment.

              Here are a couple of additional resources you can review with a great deal of comment content that will provide insight into how you can manage the situation prior to,or after a judgment (were one entered).

              Dealing with collection lawsuits.
              Settling judgment debts.

              Sometimes the answers and options to manage a debt situation are just not great.

              • Michael,
                Today is Thursday. My husband received a phone call from PRA wanting to set up payment arrangements, but they had to have a bank account they could take the money directly out of. They would settle for $30/acct each month for a total of $90/mo. I hope we can live with this, but I do NOT want them to have access to our checking account. We are considering getting an additional checking account for this purpose only, and only in my husbands name. This is the first they have ever offered this and at the 11th hour as we go to court on Monday. Should we get the checking account at our bank or another? Is our bank allowed to give them information on our other accounts?
                Also, Bob has talked to 2 other women just today to negotiate and to ask questions. Later in the afternoon, the original woman who called was mad at him because I didn’t call and give her our account number and threatened that the offer would be null and void if we didn’t do this by tomorrow. I don’t care to be threatened and I’m not sure about this company, which makes me know I don’t want them to know our bank account. Any suggestions? I know this is late and you probably won’t even see this until tomorrow, but this stuff is happening too fast. Also, I’ve never talked to a woman about these accounts before. Do they just pass these things around? Just curious.

                • Michael Bovee says:

                  Teresa – In today’s debt collection environment, and especially when dealing with Portfolio Recovery Assoc., one of the largest debt collectors in the country – who is now subject to direct CFPB supervision – it is less of a concern to give ACH payment access when you negotiate a payment agreement and it is documented. While I do recommend using a debt settlement set aside account at your normal bank for the express purpose of paying settlements, when there are time sensitive things that come up, the risks of paying debt collectors from your family checking account is not what it once was, at least in the way I currently understand what you have shared. Mistakes in accounting can still happen, but are much simpler to undo.

                  Your bank is not going to give them information about your accounts out of hand. That kind of thing is for collecting on a judgment when you have no agreement in place, and the bank receives official court docs. Having some form of an agreement in place would allay your concern here, not increase it.

                  I understand debt collectors can come off as pushy and rude, even when they are not trying to be. And yes, a collection file can touch any number of debt collectors desks inside the same company or office. Try to take personalities and emotions out of this, they do not belong. This is about math. You can either afford the payment agreement, or you cannot. If you cannot, do not do it.

                  • Hi Michael,
                    I know it’s been a few months, but we still have this problem. They have sued us an additional time – but did not give us any paperwork other that we’re being sued. Yet today we received ANOTHER summons. They only have 3 accounts – what could this be for? We had a verbal agreement to pay $75/mo ($25 for each account), and I told them that I need a bill with account numbers, etc. We were told they would send it out in the next few days. 2-3 months later, there is still no paperwork from them and they say we are in default. I have no idea where to send the money to, let alone know how it will be distributed. They also say that they don’t send any paperwork until we pay. Doesn’t make any sense to me cause I don’t know where to send the payments. These people are making me angry and I think we are about to file bankruptcy so we don’t have to deal with them. I don’t like it, but I still don’t know anything about my disability, and these people are pushing too hard for our situation at the moment. We’ve got a daughter leaving for college in a few months, and we are squeezed to the limit. Can you tell me what they are suing us for after they’ve sued us for everything they have that we owe? Btw, the first two papers were served by process servers – the second two were just mailed and had absolutely no information on what account, amounts, or anything else other than we need to show up at the courthouse at a certain time. Hoping you can shed some light on this. Thank you so much for this page.

                    • Michael Bovee says:

                      Teresa – I cannot be sure what you are dealing with now, with the new documents you received, without seeing them (and all the prior ones too). You really should be connecting with an experienced debt collection attorney (for the consumer side) in order to determine what is happening now, and what your exposure is in the future.

                      If you are considering bankruptcy, talk with an experienced BK attorney this week. Dig into all the details, the benefits and drawbacks. You could stop PRA collections in their tracks by filing, and get a new lease on your personal finances (with a chapter 7). Parent plus loans, if that is part of your college planning, can be impacted by a recent bankruptcy. But you may also be able to shed debts that free up cash flow to absorb that.

                      If you are serious about getting payments set up with PRA, do not wait more than 3 business days for anything. Be proactive, make calls, send letters, escalate your concerns to supervisors and management.

  18. PRA bought a credit card debt that was written off for $1300. It was a few years ago and I don’tbelieve the amount is even correct. If I ask for a request for production for proof they have the records will that maybe cause them to drop it or fight harder? Do they have a right since my contract was not with them to ask for this money? I have 30 days to respond from today in California.
    Thanks

    • Michael Bovee says:

      sue – Portfolio Recovery is a legitimate debt buying company. They buy up unpaid bills and mostly use their own internal debt collection resources to try and get people to pay. They use many outside collection attorneys too. Have you been served a lawsuit? Your reference to “request for production” sounds like you have. My feedback will be a bit different if you are dealing with a collection attorney working for PRA, or if you have been sued by them.

      You can request debt validation from Portfolio Recovery Assoc. prior to being sued. I see these types of requests lead to more aggressive collections, and also see them cause a pause in collection efforts (sometimes really long pauses).

      Portfolio Recovery can legally purchase your debts from creditors you fail to pay. Most credit card agreements contain a right to assign or sell clause, so you agree to someone like PRA having the ability to buy the legal right to collect from you when you opened the card.

      • Yes I was served a summons and have 30 days to respond. The court gave me an answer-contract form to fill out and I am not sure what I should do. If I deny it and say it isn’t correct what proof do they have it isn’t correct? I was making payments to the credit card company before it was purchased by portfolio. I don’t believe it is correct but was over 3 years ago so I am not sure. Whenever I tried calling portfolio in the past they would hang up after threatening or becoming rude. What would make them back away?

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Sue – Unless you can show how you paid this to the creditor those 3 years ago, putting up a great defense to the PRA lawsuit is about the only way to get them to back away now that you have been sued.

          Who was the original creditor?

    • Hi there!

      I am being sued by Portfolio Recovery as well and wanted to know what would happen if i lose my case in court to them? Whats the worst case senario. I owe about $1400 on a credit card.

      Thank you!

      • Michael Bovee says:

        What state do you live in? Where you live will often dictate the worst case scenarios. Once I know the state, I can break that down for you.

        Generally, you will have to be concerned with wage garnishment, bank account levy, and property liens, as each may apply to you.

      • Michael Bovee says:

        Tasha – I got your email about your state. Here are your ultimate risks from extra ordinary collection efforts if Portfolio Recovery gets a judgment.

        Maryland allows up to 25% of your wages to be garnished. You can request a hearing to contest the garnishment amount. Depending on what qualifications you meet, PRA may not be able to garnish as much, or even any money at all, from your pay.

        There is no direct automobile exemption in Maryland. But there is a set amount of 6k that can be used toward your car, if it is not used for exemptions toward your stuff (household goods, home).

        There is no homestead exemption in Maryland. Just the 6k.

        Your household goods have 1k of protection. Any exemptions from judgment creditors after that will have to eat into that 6k wild card amount.

        Your bank account is protected from levy, but only from that 6k wild card. It is often best to avoid the challenge of showing what is exempt after the fact. In other words, you do not want to find yourself in a position where Portfolio Recovery already took money out of your bank account, and you have to fight to get it back. You would be better off adjusting your banking practices to the realities of a judgment until you resolve it.

        Where do things stand with your case right now?

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Email comment I received from Tasha after posting the above comment:

          “I actually got a hold of the lawyer and am working a payment plan out with her. She said that if I make the payments they will call off the lawsuit! Michael Bovee, I want to thank you for taking the time out with your advice. You are kind and I will keep you in my prayers so that good things come your way. I appreciate you.”

          I wanted to share that so other readers know how people progress through resolving this stuff.

  19. Portfolio is contacting me on a debt that I don’t think is mine. They have only my name correct. Social security number and other info is wrong. They don’t seem to care. They reported this alleged debt to the credit agencies. The amount they are stating I owe is $182.00. I could easily pay it but I don’t think it’s mine. I have never left anything unpaid. So, my question is: if they are going to keep harassing me even though they have all incorrect information, can I claim SOL with them? The report they put on my credit report states: date of last activity is 1/2009. But then they show a 30 day late fee starting in 10/2010. I don’t understand that. Which date can I go by?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Angela – Can you please post a comment reply and briefly outline what efforts you have made direct with Portfolio Recovery and/or direct with the credit reporting agencies, to get to the bottom of the debt appearing on your credit report.

      Do you have any other negatives appearing on your credit reports at all?

  20. I am being sued by Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC, the papers they served me with were two bills of sale of debt which were whited out in the file area and date area of the bill of sale, they attached an affidavit from some woman that says she reviewed the debt and says its correct. they also attached a copy of a credit card statement which they claim they own that debt of 4600.00. the bills of sale are not from that credit card company. I live in Florida, I have yet to go to court but its in small claims division and the service papers say pre trial conference. I don’t believe that they can show they own the debt and think they are just seeing if I will not show up for summary judgement. All of the documents attached to the summons seem manufactured and altered.

  21. PhillyGal says:

    Hi Michael,
    I am being sue by Apothaker on behalf of Calvary (in NY) original creditor HSBC. I know this because I received the “YOU ARE BEING SUED” letters from debt relief lawyers. I requested validation from calvary upon receiving notice and received no response (Jan 13). Then received a letter from Apothaker May 13 saying that they were representing Calavary for an amount of $1500. I requested validation and also requested contact through mail only. Apothaker sent a copy of documents indicating the transfer of debts from HSBC to calavary and the only documentation they send of a debt pertaining to me was a type written letter telling me who the original creditor is, amount owed and original account number but no statements. I was tipped of by Debt relief lawyers that I am being sued, so I searched the public records and found the claim submitted by Apothaker filed on 12/20/13. I was thinking of sending a second request for validation from both Calvary and Apothaker stating that what they sent is not a proper debt validation ,Is this a good idea? I cannot afford an attorney and I am not in a financial position to pay a lump sum. Also I received a call from Apothaker this evening, I took a picture of the caller ID with my cell phone, is this a violation of the fair debt collection act if I requested contact by mail only? I have many other debts in collections but at this point am only able to pay my necessities and nothing extra.
    1. Are the documents considered sufficient for validation?
    2. Is sending the second validation letters a good idea?
    3. Should I let Apothaker know that I know I am being sued?
    4. What if any options do i have to fight the claim without a lawyer?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      PhillyGal – The threshold for meeting a request for debt validation is pretty low. What you received could indeed meet their obligation under the FDCPA. But there might be a problem with not responding to that first request last Jan 2013.

      1. See above.
      2. Up to you. I would want to talk to an experienced FDCPA attorney first.
      3. Not sure what the purpose of that would be.
      4. You may qualify for assistance from a low income legal aid office, or could maybe look to a local colleges law program and see if there is a clinic for debt defense. Otherwise you will have a good amount of studying in front of you to represent yourself.

      I think you have a shot at FDCPA violations from last January. If that is the case, most of this type of attorney will take your case without a retainer because the law allows for their costs to be covered by the other side. You should at least call and talk to one, as most offer no cost initial consults. Are you in Philadelphia? I can email you contact details for the type of attorney you need.

  22. Good morning. I have chatted w/ you before regarding my issue w/ Apothaker and Associates. I live in Pennsylvania and am having issue from a cc from 2001. I did do the registered letter to request all documentation. The contact told me she would send it. That has been over one month and I have NOT received what I requested. The contact is telling me she sent it. Do I fax over my request again and tell them it was not received? They are basically hounding me for lack of a better term. I want to reach out to the attorney you suggested but I need the paperwork. Thank you again in advance! Happy New Year

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Lynne – For debt validation requests, or for virtually any debt and credit correspondence of meaning, I prefer sending through the mail using certified mail return receipt requested. That way you get the return green card back showing they go it, and that can be used to show a chronology of communication later one (if needed).

      All the best to you and yours in 2014!

      • Michael, Good morning. I am getting the papers from the Post Office on Sat. If I do not hear from the debt atty that you suggested I will try another. I do have 3 quick questions:

        1. Should I even consider using / talking to one of the attorneys that sent me their service ad? This is after all the way I found out I was being sued

        2. Is PA a state that allows wage garnishment?

        3. If I am able to come up w/ 50% of what is owed to Cavalry , from Apothaker, from US Air, will they settle before court?

        Thank you a million times for all your assistance. I read where you said not to take is personally and just keep a clear head. Without your site or services I don’t think I would have been able to do so. You are doing us all a great service.

        Regards

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Lynne – You are free to talk to any attorney about your situation. I pull my list of experienced attorneys from the National Association of Consumer Advocates, or from attorneys I, or CRN specialists, have gathered feedback from over the years. The ones combing the local courts and mailing off lead gen letters may be just as capable, I just do not have a frame of reference to go on.

          Pennsylvania is protective of consumers and does not allow wage garnishment for debts like this. PA is a bit less protective of judgment enforcement on personal stuff though.

          I think you have a good shot of settling this for close to 50% prior to any trial, but your are better off settling for less once you take a solid defensive position in my experience.

          Thanks for appreciating the site. Be sure to share with others where appropriate.

  23. Hello,

    I ran across this blog when seeking information about debt collection, and it simply is a terrific resource. I have read all of the inquiries that were posted, however, the situations were different than mine so I felt complelled to start a new one. One guy above posted information pertinent to me, but then never re-posted so I am not sure what to make of it. I will give you an overview of my financial situation, and given that I am somewhat intelligent, intuitive and educated, street savvy maybe I can figure out what would be best in my situation. I am a single man, resident of California, have no steady job and worked as a temp at the moment so my income is limited. My employment/income has been inconsistent the past few years as I was in real estate. I was a realtor for many years, so I did not collect unemployment as my income was commission-based. My income is minimal working as a temp and the job is secheduled to end next month. I have literally applied hundreds of places over the past few years and there is no indication whatsoever that I will have gainful steady employment soon.
    I have income of $1100 each month from a rental property I owe outright (no mortgage) and $800 cash each month from my roommate. I own my home worth about $360,000 and owe about $285,000 on it ($199,000 on a first mortgage and $81,500 on a HELOC), so I am not upside down with it. I own one car worth about $16,000 and owe about the same amount on it. I have no other assets….zero…I have NO 401k, annuities, cds, overseas accounts, bonds, stocks etc. There are no other assets. No money in any bank account. I live paycheck to paycheck. My debt in addition to my mortgage and car is as follows:

    1. AMEX in collection with GCC Services and I am paying $150 per month and total amount owed is about $2700
    2. USBank credit card owe about $9000 and have received first letter from ARS Services collection agency. I have not made any payments on this in months
    3. Current Citibank Mastercard I owe about $5700 but am paying on it…not in collection or delinquent. I needed one credit card to pay for things so trying to keep one going
    4. Chase Bank VISA credit card balance owed about $21,000 and I have not paid on it in over a year. Sold to Portfolio Recovery Associates and they have contacted me once only.
    No other debt.

    My main question….should I declare bankruptcy? Ride this out and wait to see what happens? Try to settle the debt with minimal payments that I can afford? HIre and attorney and fight them? Call a debt counseling service?
    I have sent debt validation letters to ARS and Portfolio Recovery Associates by certifiied mail just yesterday.
    Your help and advice is greatly, greatly appreciated.

    Robert

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Robert – Thanks for appreciating the site, and also for being so thorough with pertinent details in your comment. I will hit your main questions first, and then follow that up with commentary.

      That rental property you own outright may take chapter 7 bankruptcy off the table, where otherwise, based on income and assets you would likely be able to discharge the unsecured debts, keep the primary residence, and either shed the car, or reconfirm the auto loan and keep the car (keeping payments going too). That would mean chapter 13, and even this path may not be worth it to you if you compare the implications with riding it out and settling accounts as cash flow makes that feasible. You really should talk about what bankruptcy would look like for you with an experienced professional. Most attorneys offer no cost initial bankruptcy consults.

      You already grasp the severity of the situation that requires your attention, while also understanding that riding it out, and the situational triage that comes with that, is actually an option. And likely one that applies to you better than others. Here is what you are up against:

      1. AMEX settlement through GC services can be targeted at 50%-ish, but not while you are paying them anything monthly.
      2. USbank settlement at this stage of collection with Allied Recovery is realistic at 30 to 40 percent.
      3. Citibank payments being current can make settlements with any of the other creditors, debt collectors, or a buyer like Portfolio Recovery Associates, a bit more complicated, but not always.
      4. Portfolio Recovery may be the most flexible situation you have. They will have a collect-ability metric that you may need to convince them they should ignore. It would be better to settle with PRA before any collection effort reaches the courts, as the savings you can target from settling now is better than the savings from settling a collection lawsuit. You also have the alternative of working with a skilled debt defense attorney as a cost of resolving this one too. No need to go there unless you have to though, and hopefully you don’t.

      The debt validation request to Portfolio Recovery and Allied Recovery are not all that useful in today’s collection environment. Both of these collectors can meet their obligation to respond.

      No credit counseling service would be of much use to you right now, and unless you have money in hand to start negotiating settlements, hiring a company for help with debt settlement is not all that useful either. I should point out that some debt negotiation companies can help you save for settlements while not charging any fees until they get a deal in place, and either partially or fully funded, before earning their fee. And there are companies that can help prevent collection lawsuits in some scenarios.

      After reading that feedback, what are you inclined to do? What amount of money can you save up each month to resolve the debts one at a time (assuming a similar temp, or other job comes available)? Are you willing to let go of the income property, or take enough of a hard money loan on it to settle the other debts for the optimal savings?

      • Michael,

        This is outstanding information. This–in my opinion–is a prime example of the internet at its best. Simply great. Its great to get a thorough, understandable, speedy, free and helpful reply. This would not have happened in the pre-internet age or at least not as easily and quickly. Thank you very much.

        At any rate, my knee-jerk reaction is to stop paying the AMEX account and settle with them for a balance roughly and hopefully 50% of the $2700 owed with my tax return money this year. As for Citibank Mastercard, my car, my mortgage I would keep paying those as I have been. (I can manage those bills with my $800 roommate income and $1100 rent generated from the income property and my temp job income of $13.00 per hour.)

        It does not seem that I am a good candidate for bankruptcy, but nonetheless I am going to contact an bk attorney just to see what he/she says about my situation.

        Selling the income property I own outright runs counter against the very core of my being. I am in my 50s, and the income I get from it is easy money, I have had the same trouble-free tenant since I bought it, it has never been vacant –and most importantly it is appreciating in value quickly (I have gained about $50,000 value in the last 4 years) and to sell it would be foolish in my opinion because it will undoubtely increase in value further as it is in an upscale, desirable area of LA. I need the rental money for additional income in my old age, and to liquidate it just doesn’t make sense to me on any level. Plus, if I got truly desperate, I could sell my current home, pocket the equity and move into the rental. Or rent out my current home as it would generate about $2200 per month rent. But for now I am staying in my home and keeping the rental. So I am stuck with the option of getting a hard money loan on the income property, and while that doesn’t appeal to me, it is my only real option I think. My $13.00 per hour temp job/rental income/roommate cash allows me to stay afloat and pay all my monthly bills but that is about it.

        I am going to do my best to negotiate with Portfolio Recovery and hope for monthly payments to them, but correct me if I am wrong but I think I have to pay them all at once with a lump-sum payment, correct? I don’t have any cash lying around. None. I can save about $500 a month paying both Portfolio for my Chase visa account and Allied for the USBank account…thats my limit. Perhaps I should concentrate on paying a settled amount on the AMEX first with my fax refund, followed by negotiating with ARS (I could pay tnem off in full for a settlement of about $4000 in six months or so and even better if they would take payments).

        My real pain in the neck is Portfolio Recovery. I can come up with the money for the others but because the balance is so high with Portfolio Recovery, that will take awhile to get the funds. A year or more.

        There is no indication that I will have full-time employment soon. I was not exagerrating when I said I have submitted hundreds of job applications over the past few years. I am the very definiton of “house-poor.” I own over $525,000 worth of real estate and earn $13.00 per hour with a temp job. Scary.

        At any rate, thanks again for such helpful advice. I will be contacting a bk attorney just to check out that unlikely option and then approaching Portfolio hoping that some kind of payment schedule can be worked out without obtaining a hard loan on my rental home.

        You are amazingly helpful. A most heartfelt thank you!

        Robert

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Robert – I agree with your wincing over my comment about letting the rental go. I figured with the lack of retirement savings, and the employment situation, the home is (and should be) part of that plan. If the home is in your name it will make you a bigger target to sue for collection. Your catch 22 regarding the home is you cannot get any conventional financing with your credit report and score in the shape they are. You can use the catch 22 in negotiations if anyone raises the objection.

          Yes, you often settle the best savings with Portfolio Recovery Services by paying in a lump sum. But you can also negotiate the balance down (though not as far), and get 3, 6, and sometimes more months to pay. I have worked on many debt buyer files where the risk of a lawsuit can be removed by agreeing to a longer term settlement payment arrangement, but you do often lose some savings benefit when time is needed.

          I think your priorities for each debt are good given the circumstances. Two additional thing to consider would be the longer payment arrangement with PRA, and the fact that if they sue, you can buy time defending the suit working with an experienced consumer attorney (fairly affordable) – perhaps even the year you anticipate needing.

          Thanks again for your participation in the site, and please consider posting updates as you make progress (or more questions and concerns too).

          • Michael once again thank you for all your information. I feel I owe YOU and not them something! At any rate, I am negotiating with ARS regarding my roughtly $9K balance on my US Bank account. I am dangling my income tax refund this year of about $3000 and telling them I can give them the refund…they seem tempted by the lump sum payment but we are still negotiating. They do not know about my rental property….at least not yet. I don’t know if later in the collection process they would check property records or something but my rental property does not show on my credit report at all because as I mentioned before I paid all cash. One question: Do creditors typically look up names under property tax rolls or something?

            Another question for today is: What do I need from them (or any creditor for that matter) to prove the debt is settled? I noticed on here from other posters that creditors come back YEARS LATER and ask for money. I don’t want that happening to me. What do I ask for to prove once and for all the account was paid??

            Thank you Michael.

            • Michael Bovee says:

              Robert – There are skip tracing programs that do the poking around for debt collectors, and also individual collectors that have the skill set to take their asset location efforts that far. So yes, it is a risk.

              I agree that there are examples of settled debts turning up later with some other collector as if they were never resolved. But that kind of thing is over hyped. It just does not happen often. You should always CYA in this regard though, so read this report about getting your settlements documented. You will want to save the letter and proof of payment in the event you have to use it for credit reporting, or some mistake where the amount forgiven is sold off to another debt collector.

              For others reading this page specifically for information about Portfolio Recovery Associates, they do not resell debts they purchase, or at least do not currently and haven’t for a while.

  24. Hi Michael,

    First off, I want to thank you for providing such great information and helpful feedback. I have a question not addressed in the comments posted. Portfolio Recovery Services contacted me by mail requesting I contact them about paying a debt that was discharged in chapter 7 bankruptcy court thirteen years ago. The letter stated I have thirty days to request validation of this debt. I know that I can’t be sued because bankruptcy discharge is an absolute defense not to mention the statute of limitations, but I have been reading about various people in a similar situation who were sued anyway and not properly served notice of the lawsuit. This resulted in a default judgement forcing them to untangle the mess after their bank accounts were frozen. Can you give me advice about the best way to proceed from here?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Sarah – If it were my I would send Portfolio Recovery a dispute letter also instructing them to cease all communication with me, as there is no debt to resolve with them because the debt was legally discharged in the chapter 7. Collectors like PRA can still try to collect after SOL to sue has expired, just not through the courts.

      The concerns you read about default judgments and waking up to a bank levy are real. That has happened to people. But that type of thing is not the same concern it once was, and will be even less so with a company like PRA who is large enough to now be subject to direct supervision by the CFPB.

  25. Hi Michael,

    I have similar situation with Cach LLC and would like your assistance dealing with them. I had a Wells Fargo Business Credit Card with a $2,000 credit limit in 2009 but due to the bad economy, I was forced to closed the business and was unable to make any payments on the card. I just received a letter from CACH, LLC that I will be sued by J.A. Cambece Law Office for the current balance of $5,000. Is this correct that I can be SUED for more than I owe? Can you please email me with couple of experienced debt collection defense attorneys which focus on Cach LLC lawsuits? I live in the San Francisco, CA bay area and the nearest large city is Pleasanton, Livermore, Modesto area. Thank you so much for your help. -Jim

  26. Michael,

    I recently received a letter from PRA titled,”SECOND NOTICE: Account Transferred to Litigation Department” I do not dispute the balance owed for $15,000. The amount was previously on a US Bank credit card; that I had managed and made on-time payments for several years before becoming ill with HIV and having my employer lay me off during the time I was out sick. I lost my apartment, my job, and stopped paying on both my credit cards at the time.

    Over the past 2 years I’ve regained employment and am wanting to resolve my past debts however have little money left over each month after I pay rent, utilities, and my HIV associated medical costs. How might I respond to PRA’s letter if I have only $1000 in savings and cant afford much more than $150 per month payments?

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      R. – Portfolio Recovery Associates is one of only a few collection agencies I can say would be willing to offer better than normal settlement reductions if the hardship situation warrants it. Yours is one of those “what happened that forced you to stop paying is an ongoing issue” type of files I see succeed with better outcomes. But I do not see PRA agreeing to 150 a month on that large a balance. Questions:

      Are there any options you can think of to raise something like 5k in order to settle in a single lump sum?
      Are there any other balances outstanding besides the one with Portfolio Recovery?
      Have you thought about bankruptcy? If so, do you qualify for chapter 7?

  27. This may not get answered in time but I’ll give it a shot anyway. I have to be in court tomorrow feb. 4th to appear with portfolio recovery. If i ask them for debt verification right there in court or in the hallway right before we go in, and if they do not have it, will I owe the debt? Do I continue to not acknowledge the debt? What will happen? Thanks.

  28. Michael,

    my wife recently receive an letter from Portfolio Recovery Associates ”SECOND NOTICE: Account Transferred to Litigation Department”, now supposedly they purchase the two accounts from US bank that she had about 6 months ago. we stop paying them about a year ago do to financial problems. if we take this to court and if they win, can they garnish both our income or just hers, she only makes about 12,000 a year and the cards are just on her name. she owes around 7,500 in one and 4,500 in the other one, and they are asking for to much money for us to settle or to do monthly payments

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Tony – Is your name associated with the accounts in any way? What state do you live in?

      Payment plans with Portfolio Recovery tend to be pretty flexible (at least more so than many other debt collectors), and settlement percentages can vary from one file to the next. What amount can you afford to budget for each month for payments? If you settled with PRA, for say half, how long would it take to pool together and or save up for that?

      • No my name is not on the debt at all, I leave in IL.
        I was just wondering because she stop paying them after we got married, so i don’t know if i would be liable too. also I just receive a call from another collector about the same us back accounts. since is the second notice from PRA can I still ask for a debt verification?

        • it would take me along time right now, to come up with 5000, i would be able to do about 150 to 200 a month right now

          • Michael Bovee says:

            Tony – You may be off the hook as being named in any lawsuit, and you are not in a community property state. If she is sued by Portfolio Recovery, there are payment options, and even ways to defend the suit to buy time to settle, or even take a shot at dismissal. It is better to work with an experienced collection defense attorney at that point.

            You can send PRA the request for debt validation. They will likely respond to it with what they must in order to continue collection efforts (debt validation is a very low threshold and PRA will have no trouble meeting their basic requirement here). Is there a specific reason you want to request this?

            You might be able to get them to agree to the small monthly payments, if you wanted to go that direction. I am seeing more deals with the larger debt collectors that figure in 36 month and longer payments. Is that what you are more inclined to do?

  29. well I’m going to talk to them to see if we can agree on close to what i can pay(150-200) a month. it would be more like 8 years to finish, but she did owe the money. if we don’t come up with anything than will try the collection defense attorney. why do you think that we might have a good chance to dismissal. is it because of the state we leave in and because she does not make that much?
    I heard that a debt validation would give you all the info you need and would also verify that they are the owners of the account. is that correct?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Tony – It is not that yours is a unique situation that has a higher chance of dismissal. It is more that there are collection defenses that, when applied well, can lead to a dismissal in many cases like this. It would not have much to do with the state (though the court can make a difference), or her income.

      You can send PRA the debt validation request. I tend to stay away from it when the goal is to settle a debt with PRA, but that is not the case here. Aside from that, most folks can readily recognize the debts they owe, like you already have. Balances being stated owed being accurate is where the most consistent beef can be found. So if seeking an affordable payment plan for the whole balance, you would indeed want to be sure you are working with an accurate figure. You can also call and ask US Bank what they balance at sale was, or look to see what UsBank shows on her credit reports.

  30. Thanks for all your help, I’ll keep you posted. If i can’t get a good payment plan hopefully you can recommend a good but affordable attorney.

  31. Hi, I have been reading over the posts and I don’t see anyone with my situation. I live in CA. My husband immigrated me here from Canada in 2004. Immigration took all our money, so we really didn’t have much to start with. We tried to get on our feet, but I had a hard time finding a job and when I did, they didn’t last long. In 2008 I became unemployed for 4 years. We tried to keep paying our bills, but eventually it was either pay the creditors or buy food. We let all the bills go and just pay what we have have to. We couldn’t afford bankruptcy. I was going to school in the mean time though. I graduated June 1, 2012. That exact day Portfolio started calling. We never answered the phone. We changed all our numbers, they eventually found the new numbers. We gave up changing numbers, so we blocked all their numbers. They have been calling for a year and half. We have not spoken to them once. They never leave a message. They started sending correspondence. I google all the letters I don’t recognize and if it’s them, I return to sender unopened. They still send them to both our house and PO Box. Today they put a mark on my credit. I am working again, but I am a temp. We still can not pay, but we might be able to swing bankruptcy now. Is it too late to pursue bankruptcy? Is it possible even though we have never spoken to Portfolio that they can they sue us? I don’t know how much they want, but I know it is a lot of credit cards combined. Out of all our credit cards only 2 (Chase) wrote it off. They rest sold our debt to Portfolio and Midland. Mostly Portfolio. We have no credit cards at all now and only use the bank account. Is there still a chance they can sue us?

    Thanks
    Tiffany

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Tiffany – Can you say with confidence when the last time these bills received a payment? Was that back in 2008? The answer to that will help you to determine how much risk there is of PRA suing to collect in California. The SOL (statute of limitations) is 4 years on open accounts, like credit cards, in CA. If it has been longer than that, there is little risk of being sued. And there are simple solutions if they did sue to collect beyond the SOL.

      You can indeed still file bankruptcy and discharge all/most of your debt in a chapter 7. But if all collectors can do at this point is bark, and not bite (sue you legitimately), and if these items are set to fall off your credit reports in about 18 to 24 months, you can consider that into your decision.

  32. I found your site through a web search on Portfolio Recovery. I just spoke with them about a CAP One account I had opened in 2008. The last payment I made on the account was in Dec 2010. There is about 10 months till the SOL runs out. I have received several notices over the past couple of years from them offering settlement. The total on this particular account was just about $590. I think they would be more successful if they would identify themselves when they call and leave a message. I did not received any legal notice about a lawsuit but felt it was time to take care of the debt now that I am in a better financial position. I can say they had very meticulous records about my Cap One account. It may very well be that they would have filed suit before Dec 2014. They did just send out another settlement lwetter last week. I have not received it in the mail. The lady was very courteous but very business like. She did not hesitate to recite all the past conversations we had with dates and times as well as details on transactions from the account. That is most definitely more info that a spreadsheet with my name, an account number and amount owed. So they have stepped up their game a bit. I spent about 15 minutes on the phone and had a settlement of $385 on $590 debt. Since I had to make a payment this month, their hook to get you to commit. I paid $25 now and was going to make two more payments in March and April. they were willing to set up a payment plan on reduced settlement amount I chose to pay $25 now just to show I was serious and satisfy them then pay the remaining balance at the end of March. The only trhing I did not like was the fact that htey want your bank account number to ACH. If you use a debit or credit card then they want an additional $9.95 fee. I chose to give them my bank account to save the $10. They were very easy to deal with as well as pleasant. I have ordered stuff online and had to deal with worse when I was a paying customer. Just my 2¢. They stated they could not remove any thing from the credit report as they only report. After I pay off the account I was free to contact the credit bureaus to get them to remove it. So The rep did pass bad info on that.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Ed – Congratulations on settling with Portfolio Recovery and getting this behind you. And thanks much for sharing your personal experience. I have years worth of feedback from CRN members we coached to do their own settlements that mirrors what you shared. Negotiating with PRA is not difficult, and payment options are often flexible.

      You mentioned PRA is stepping up their game as far as ability to document the accounts they purchase etc. That is going to be the case with most any legitimate debt collector moving forward in the next year or two. PRA and a couple of other larger debt buyers are ahead of the curve on implementing changes to collection rules that the CFPB will likely introduce 2014/15.

  33. My grandmother has a judgment lien on her house in Pa from PALISADES COLLECTION LLC APOTHAKER & ASSOC. for $9000.00 in 2008. We found out that we can not get the title to her mobile home until lien is paid. She has spoke to Apothaker & Assoc. over the phone trying to come to an agreement. My grandmother only collects SS. She has sent them a letter from her doctor as requested and they have agreed to a settlement of 3000.00. due to hardship. They wanted her to give them her checking account # and routing# over the phone. As I read above I don’t think this is a good idea. Should she get a certified letter first from them stating the terms of agreement and a written statement that they will remove the lien? How should she make the payment? Certified check? Thank you in advance.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Jess – In today’s collection environment, and when dealing with recognized debt collectors (both Palisades Collection LLC and Apothaker are), it is generally okay to offer payment over the phone, of a one time lump sum, but only if everything is documented and in front of you/her. Is that what is missing? The agreement in writing?

      • Yes ,so far all negotiating has been over the phone. Im just worried they will take her 3000 and then try and come back for more and not satisfy the judgment. Should I have them send a letter first with agreement?

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Jess – I would not pay a cent on a settlement with out a written outline of what is being agreed to. There are some limited situations where alternatives to a written agreement from collection outfits like Palisades, or Apothaker would work too, but this is not one of them in my experience.

          As with anything involving the courts, it is always a good idea to run your situation ans questions by an attorney.

  34. Found you website while doing research on Apothaker and Associates…my situation is back in 2009 I was making payments to A&A on a debt, for $50 a month, my husband became ill and unable to return back to work, thus at the time he filed for SSD, at this time we only had my income, at the time I called A&A and explained the situation and if I could have my payment reduced, the woman said she would call me back in reference to this situation, never received a call back…fast forward to present time I received a letter last week…A Writ Of Execution…I called A&A to try to set up a payment plan…I was told that no payment plan can be offered due to they A&A have notified my bank to request a levy to freeze my bank account…I then promptly called my bank and they told me that due to having a joint account with my husband and the levy request was only made in my name that they the bank are refusing the freezing of the account and are sending paperwork to A&A to notify them…I want to set up a payment plan with A&A and get on with my life…my main question is since they cannot freeze my joint bank account is there any other avenues they can try like garnishing my wages etc. if I am willing to make arrangements for a payment plan?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Tammie – Wage garnishment is fairly common once judgments are in place, but some states do not allow them. What state are you in?

      If Apothaker and Associates cannot levy the bank account, they will likely be somewhat more open to a payment plan. How much is the judgment they have for? What is the name of the creditor or debt collector that they are working for?

  35. Michael,
    I have gotten quite a bit of good information from some of your previous answers to others. PRA has been calling me to collect on a total of about $21,700 debt from four credit card accounts including B of A, JCPenney, Dillards, and Citibank. We were in CH 13 proceedings for some time and these old debts had been written off and then sold to PRA. We ended up backing out of the CH 13. I have talked to PRA and indicated that I would like to try and work out a payment plan and they floated a few options, including $1,141/mo. for 12 months on a reduced total amount. They have come down to about $13,300 for that payment plan. I plan to keep working with them, but we are not in a position to pay them off or make that large of a monthly payment right now; however, we would like to get this resolved if possible. My wife is a temp employee at a recently started job but expects to go full time with a raise in a couple of months. I am thinking of asking if we can make some kind of good faith payments for a few months to give us time to see if her job situation pans out and then accept the payoff deal or maybe a better one.

    It would be helpful to know what PRA pays for debt (cents/dollar) and what percentage we can expect them to discount from the original debt amount they start with? Also, if we make any kind of payment, will that lock us into a situation that we are bound to? If I cooperate, but work them hard, will they likely come down as much as they would with an attorney, or close?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Brian – It seems logical to expect that knowing what Portfolio Recovery pays for your accounts will be helpful to resolving debts with them, but it really isn’t. If they bought your debt fresh after your creditor charged off the accounts, they may have paid about a dime on the dollar. If older than that, or post BK petition purchases, likely much less. But knowing that is not going to affect your settlements or payment options. PRA will model what they will accept from you in a settlement; a payment plan and settlement; or a payment plan, mostly by using a sophisticated approach to how collectable you are, or sometimes by what you share with them that cannot be seen (which can be quite a bit).

      My experience is that you can negotiate debts with PRA down to between a 40 and 60% discount when you are dealing with them directly. That can change when dealing with an attorney collecting for PRA. You also will have time to pay, like you are seeing with that 12 month offer. I have seen longer than 12 months payment plans with PRA when settling for less too.

      If you negotiate a settlement that involves payments, and not a lump sum single payment, and you later fail to live up to the terms, you risk losing the deal. That could mean all prior payments could end up being applied to the full balance of the debt, and you are back to negotiating anew. But I have seen settlements get renegotiated successfully too.

      My experience is that you can negotiate with PRA and get just as good a savings as a pro. A pro can sometimes bring extended payment options, or delay some or all risk of being sued, depending on who that is.

      Curious: What caused you to bail from the chapter 13 plan? Had you begun the repayments, and if so, for how many months?

  36. Hi; Great site! Thanks. I filed an Az. chap. 13 a year ago. Kept a vehicle owing $8600 on it. GE sold vehicle loan to PRA. Now chapter 13 has been changed to a chapter 7. I have called PRA and they have so far refused to discuss with me even if they hold the interest on the vehicle. No money was paid them through courts during the chapter 13 year. My question is, First, if they wont be reasonable on a payoff, could I just tell them to come get the vehicle and be done with it. Also, if I pay it. Could it be a nitemare to get my title? I expect once they realize its a 7 now, they talk to me, but after trying to communicate with them before, I don’t trust them. Thanks!

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Mark – You need to discuss your options with your bankruptcy attorney, but yes, you can let go of the car in and any debt associated with it in the chapter 7.

  37. Gabriel says:

    Hi Michael,
    My Wife opened an credit card account with target department store in 1997. The last payment she made was in 2002. Since then the debt was sold to portfolio recovery. At no time was I involved in opening this account, l never signed or gave my ok to open this account.
    I received a call from portfolio recovery claiming that I was the primary individual on the account and as such I was responsible for the debt.
    Once again let me emphasize I never opened or signed any paperwork pertaining to this card.
    I requested from pr the original paperwork showing my signature as confirmation of proof. They indicated that they would indeed send me said paperwork.
    My question is 1. Am I responsible for my wife’s debt.?2.can this affect my credit report? 3.How do I proceed to deal with this problem?.
    I do admit my did open this account but did so under her name not mine.
    I have excellent credit and would like to keep it that way.
    Thank you for your insight regarding these problems.

    Gabriel.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Gabriel – Sounds like a data snafu on PRA’s end to me. But before I offer any actionable type feedback, let me be sure I understand what is happening:

      PRA is trying to collect a debt where the last payment to the account was made in 2002. What state do you live in?
      Portfolio Recovery is saying you are the account holder they are supposed to collect from on the old Target account, but that is not possible.
      PRA is not showing on your, or your wife’s credit report.

      Was the phone call from PRA received today? Have you been at the same address for some time? Have you received any recent collection notices in the mail from PRA, if so, when was that?

  38. Hi Michael!

    I hope this will get to you. So Portfolio Recovery is sueing me on an GE account that was my CareCredit account. They served my paper work at my parents home, where I don’t live and it has my maiden name. I’ ve been married and changed my name in 2011. I’ve never lived at my parents address, I’ve never recevied any notice on this debt or that they were planning on suing me. Is there something I can do or show the court I was not notified of this debt? I know owe the debt but I haven’t been directly contacted, and they have all my contact info incorrect on the summons.

    Thank you for your time.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Daisy – Do you live in the same county as your folks? What would your goal be for managing the situation with PRA if they had served you at your address? How much is PRA suing for?

  39. Good morning Michael, we have spoken and few times and again I want to thank you for the invaluable service that you provide. I am being taken to court by Apothaker on April 21, 2014. I reached out to the contact that you emailed me ( 2 times) and have had no response. I also reached out to the 2 companies that sent my flyers ( and let me know I was being sued) and again no reply.

    I would like to go into court and lay out the facts. I was laid off for 2 1/2 years and just gained full time employment last fall. I have no had health insurance going on 5 years. I do not have any type of pay TV, nor have I had , for the last 3 years. I live paycheck to paycheck to just make a decent living and get by.

    I sent a registered letter to Apothaker for proof of debt and received nothing in return. I also did a fax , with confirmation, as a second request and again no response. Please note that I do have copies of the actions above.

    The debt I believe is from an old US CC for $1900 or so. ( all information was in a past email to you). They state the last payment was Feb of 2011 for $200.00 I want to go to court and just tell my story and take it from there. I really dont have money to settle and I want the court to know that I am not wasteful or spending my money w/ reckless abandon. I am almost 46 years old and just trying to make a life for myself. Since I do not have representation or a legal degree, any sage advice that you can give me would be gratefully accepted.

    Thank you again and have a great weekend.

    Lynne

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Thanks for the update Lynn. Perhaps Jason is away. I can refer you to some other experienced attorneys if you like. Let me know.

      I have many instances I can recall over the years where someone just wants to show up and explain what happened to the judge handling the collection lawsuit (or even the attorney for a collection agency like PRA), but that is more of a cathartic exercise. And there is nothing wrong with this per say. Just know that you are essentially admitting the debt owed now to Portfolio Recovery, and basically saying it is unaffordable for you to pay today. Typically the judgment will go into the record anyway, and PRA will be afforded the extra ordinary options to collect from you that come with that. Unless you get PRA to agree to an affordable payment in the process, catharsis may be the only thing served.

      • Good afternoon Mike

        Thank you for the response. So it’s a catch 22. If I dont show then they can come after me and if I show up I admit debt? I am going b/c the are suing me and I have not been able to get any type of paperwork from them to prove my debt. To tell you that $25 a month is all that I could afford, an not an exaggeration, they were not willing to do before. They told me it was too little to late.

        I am just kind of stuck on what to do. I have the copy of the registered p work that I sent them ( w/ no response) as well as the fax sheet and confirmation. I also have put out my salary and expenses to let the court know where i stand financially. If you have any other names of someone I could call, I would feel better speaking to someone this week. I have been spending years to get my credit back in order and I have been on the way up for over 3 years. I do not want this to set me back all over again.

        Thanks again in advance for all the insight

        Have a great day
        Lynne

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Lynne – You can force the issue of proving up and documenting the debt, but that process is much more formal now that you are in court. You have to follow court procedures for discovery etc. If you are not conforming to the court process, you may not be getting responses for a reason. Go to naca.net and look for an attorney in your area other than Jason. There are a few additional experienced NACA members in the general area.

          The cost to fight this with an experienced lawyer could exceed the amount of the debt,and probably would be more than the amount you could settle it for. But protecting your credit has its costs.

          • Michael

            I went ahead and used the naca site and found an attorney the next town over. I have emailed them and hope to speak with someone prior to end of the week. I will let you know how it goes. Thank you again

            Regards
            Lynne

            • Good afternoon Michael
              I wanted to thank you again for NACA site. I have actually retained an attorney and we are moving forward. It seems as if Calvary, who represents the Apothaker and Assoc claim, may be willing to settle after all. My attorney was going to file a claim for unfair practice ( as you detailed in many other cases) and now it seems that they would like to come to a conclusion before we file. I rest much easier and again am so thankful for your advice. I do not know that it is over yet, but I believe I am on my way! Best wishes for you and your family. Regards
              Lynne

              • Michael Bovee says:

                Thanks Lynn :)

                • Michael: I just wanted you to know that we just completed the court date w/ Cavalry. The judge sided in my favor . I know that they have 30 days to appeal, but I will deal with that should it happen. Thank you for your guidance and service. Without this site, I would not have know the proper steps to take in this matter or where to find a proper attorney! Be well and good luck! Thank you again!

                  • Michael Bovee says:

                    Great news and thanks so much for the update. It means a lot to people who read through the pages of this site when they are able to not just read about the debt stress and collections concerns, but also the outcomes.

                    Best to you and yours too!

  40. I have a credit card with MBNA that is now charged-off with a 20K balance. I have been placed with a collection agency called Portfolio Recovery. They have sent me a letter stating that I can settle for a lump sum of $16k + but that is not feasible. The collection agency has attempte one time to deliver something to my house, but I was not home and it was refused. What can happen now? Here is my story:

    In January of 2013 I contacted MBNA to let them know that because of a loss of income, I would not be able to make the monthly minimum payments any longer. Because I was still current on my account, I was informed that they could not help me with any kind of payment plan. I called them again in February and told them the same thing and received the same answer, they could not help me. In April 2013, I spent over 45 minutes on the phone discussing my financial situation. It was a very painful and difficult conversation for me and it got me nowhere. The rep on the phone told me that because I did not make enough money, they could not work with me on a payment plan. I was told to seek debt management. My account has now been referred to the collection agency listed above. I sent them a letter informing them of what I could afford to pay them each month and never got a response. As I stated, it seem that they are now trying to serve me with some sort of legal paper work. I am scared and don’t know what to do. I have been able to keep all my other loans/credit cards current but this company was unwilling to help me when I was trying to be proactive.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      JoJo – Portfolio Recovery is suing you. The amount you owe on the MBNA account is large, but that is not necessarily why PRA would see you as a target to collect from through court. You are paying everyone else on time, just not this account. That makes you look highly collectable, no matter what you say, or put in an offer you send to PRA in the mail.

      You are being sued. That can result in a judgment, which can lead to wage garnishment, bank account freeze (levy), and property lien, in most states. You can defend against these suits, settle them for less than the amount owed, enter into payment arrangements, and the like.

      What is your goal with this account?

      • I would like to work with them to pay this debt. I can not afford to be sued or have my bank account closed due to a levy. I am a stay at home mother. My husband is the income provider but I pay all of the bills through my account because he can not handle it. I have been in Hardship programs with my other creditors which is why I have been able to keep paying them. I have split my mortgage, car and other payments into weekly installments in some cases just to ensure that we have enough money for food each week. What should I do to try and avoid this lawsuit? I really appreciate your help.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          JoJo – I do not think you can avoid the lawsuit. From what you shared so far, it would appear to have been filed already. You just have not been officially served yet. You can verify this by looking up your name in the court record. You could nip this really quickly if you had a lump sum of cash to settle with. Short of that, you are probably looking some type of longer term payment agreement to avoid bank levy etc., or using your available cash resources to defend the suit by working with an experienced debt defense attorney. If you post the name of a nearby larger city I can sent you an email with contact details to a few of the attorneys you could call for a no cost initial consult. This would help you to best evaluate the defensive position, and its costs. At 20k, if there are good standards for debt buyer defenses in your area, that may prove to be the most cost effective approach.

          • Thank you for this information, Michael. Should I try to contact PRA directly and discuss this with them? I have nothing to offer as far as a lump sum settlement goes. I have no savings, no retirement and no extra cash on hand. We live week to week just scraping by. The largest city close would be Denver or Golden if you do not have contacts in the Arvada area. I don’t even think that I have the equity in my home to try and refinance. Besides, my credit would hinder that pocess as well. I am feeling overwhelmed by this and just want to give up. Would banruptcy be an option at this point or is it just too late?
            Thank you again. You are very helpful.

            • Michael Bovee says:

              JoJo – Bankruptcy is always an option. If you can qualify for chapter 7 and keep your home and car(s), it can be a no brainer decision to shed all of the other unaffordable debt. You can get a better feel for the difference between bankruptcy and other ways of dealing with a debt overload by reading: http://consumerrecoverynetwork.com/credit-report-score-rating-debt-relief-programs/

              You can talk with a bankruptcy pro at 877-278-8117, or find one through nacba.org.

              I will email contact info to a couple of experienced debt defense attorneys in the Denver area. You should call one and get a feel for how defending this will stack up against the bankruptcy option once you consult with an experienced BK attorney.

  41. Christine says:

    Hi Mr. Bovee,
    I received a summon from PRA last week regarding a credit card debt of $4500 which I defaulted 2 years ago. I called PRA to set up a payment arrangement with them since I recognize it as mine and I don’t want to go to court. They agreed to a $500 d/p and the balance to be paid in 24 monthly installments. I was told by the lady on the other line that I have to give my bank account information first for ACH withdrawals to finalize the arrangement. She also said that the lawyer representing them will also be informed about the arrangement. Then they will send me a letter in the mail about the dp that I made. My question is should I still go to court this week and file an answer to the summon or wait for PRA’s letter to come in the mail? If I do wait I am worried that my allowable time to answer the summon will ran out. And iI do, should I indicate in my answer that I have already made a payment arrangement with PRA? The lady from PRA told me that I don’t have to do it once I pay the $500 today but I am scared that a default judgement will be entered against me. Does this mean that PRA will withdraw the civil suit against me once dp is made? I have read from your previous threads not to give any account information until it is done in writing. But it seems that PRA wants the other way around. I really need your advice on this. Can you please advice me on what I should do before I call them back and make my downpayment? Your response is greatly appreciated! Thank you!!!

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Christine – I would encourage you to first call an experienced debt collection defense attorney and run your concerns by them. You may even have a good shot at a better outcome by working with the attorney to defend. Post the name of a nearby larger city and I will email you contact info to the type of attorney you would want to connect with.

  42. Christine says:

    Hi Mr. Bovee,
    I very much appreciate your prompt reply. Is settling this matter out of court not the best option for me? If I hire a lawyer, it will be more of an expense on my part to pay lawyer’s fees. I don’t have a lump sum to settle the account but would be able to afford a lower downpayment and monthly installments which the PRA agreed. Getting this to court would cause me more stress. Once again, thank you so much for your time.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Okay. I understood your original comment to mean you were not confident you should pay them. If you need a lower amount, PRA is not hard to work out payments with. Let them know you cannot swing that down payment. Also let them know you either want the deal documented, or record your phone calls with them and keep the data files, or the recordings in a safe place in the even you need them later.

      My caution is to only agree to payments you are 100% confident you can afford.

  43. Christine says:

    Hi Mr. Bovee,
    I will definitely keep that in mind. Your advices are very helpful. Thank you so much for your time!

  44. Christine says:

    Hi Mr. Bovee,
    Just a follow-up question regarding PRA, they asked me to sign a stipulated judgement since I agreed to making monthly payments for 24 months instead of a lump sum amount. I understand that if I sign this and missed a payment, PRA can freeze my bank account or garnish my wages. Is this part of a settlement with PRA? Thank you for your time!

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Christine – You really should run legal questions by your own attorney. I can say that, in general, settling with debt collectors like Portfolio Recovery, once sued, and where monthly payments are a necessary part of the agreement, stipulating to a judgment is fairly common.

  45. Hi Michael,

    On Saturday 05/10/14, I was served with a summon in the amount of $5703.02 by Portfolio Recovery Associates. I have never been sued before. Should I call them to see if they can drop the lawsuit & make payment arrangement? Please help.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Malin – They are not going to drop the lawsuit if you offer to make payments. How much could you pool together to offer PRA a settlement, and get the lawsuit dropped?

  46. Christine says:

    Mr. Bovee,
    Thank you for the information! Really appreciate for giving your time to answer my questions.

  47. Btw I live in CA.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      J – I edited your name from your post, and another obvious identifier. Please be careful posting anything like your name on line while asking for help and answers to your questions. Your details are revealing as is.

      No, you should not discuss your situation with any debt collector.

      I am emailing you the name, number and email address for an attorney who I want you to consult with about Portfolio Recovery suing you. I know you already talked with an attorney, but most do not have debt collection defense experience, and are ill equipped to discuss a range of options with you.

      Have you looked into chapter 7 bankruptcy?

      • Thank you so much, I am going to see a bankruptcy Atty. this week but unless they can take my case and agree to wait for payment until my other case settles we’ll see. I’ll also call the Atty. you suggest. Thanks again for your help, I’ll keep you posted! Btw it won’t let me post or reply without my name and email for some reason.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Some attorneys will take your chapter 7 case on a monthly installment, waiting to file the actual petition with the court for several months.

          Posting here, or to sites that use this same type of comment system and settings, can be done with anything typed in as a name. I made yours just J again. The email address you enter is seen by admin only, and is not published anywhere, nor will it be ever. So no worries there.

  48. Michael,

    So I would have to go to court & settle this in court? Will the court allow me to make payment arrangement? Will they be able to put any lien towards my house?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      malin – You can settle in or out of court. You can settle with payment arrangements, or in a lump sum.

      If a judgment is entered in the court, and if all factors meet the standard profile for filing a lien on your house in order to collect on the court judgment… yes. But you can also settle those too.

  49. Michael,

    I went onto the court website & found this. Please explain what it means for my better understand:

    05/02/2014 SERVICE RE: DECLARATION OF NON SERVICE ON SUMMONS AND
    COMPLAINT RETURNED NOT FOUND/NO SERVICE AS TO____ FILED. COSTS OF $ 55.00 .

    04/24/2014 ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE HEARING SIGNED AND FILED BY HOWARD L.
    HALM, JUDGE TO SHOW WHY SANCTIONS SHOULD NOT BE IMPOSED
    FOR FAILURE TO FILE REQUEST FOR ENTRY OF DEFAULT JUDGMENT
    PURSUANT TO CRC 3.740(F). MATTER CONTINUED FOR HEARING
    ON 04/26/17 AT 08:30A M., IN DEPT. SEY . CERTIFICATE
    OF MAILING FILED, GIVEN TO RESPECTIVE PARTIES/ COUNSEL.

    04/10/2014 COLLECTIONS CASE COMPLAINT FILED PURSUANT TO CRC 3.740.
    04/10/2014 SUMMONS ISSUED.
    04/10/2014 SUMMONS FILED.

  50. I live In California and last week I received a summons that I am being sued by Portfolio Associates. I have documentation of a repayment plan that I have made payments on. I called portfolio and they said that I had to go to court. They say that their litigation department is seperate from them?? They also said that my case was probably being considered for litigation when I made the repayment plan. I don’t know what to do. Show I file an answer with the court that I have a repayment plan?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      JoAnn – Who is it that is collecting for Portfolio Recovery? Can you post a reply with the chronology of what happened, when, and with who, when the payment plan started and if you have made payment late, or on time?

      Also, what state are you in? Who was the original creditor, and when was it that you last made a payment on this debt prior to setting up the arrangements you have now with the debt collector for PRA?

      I can offer feedback when I know the answers to the above.

  51. I live in PA. A few months back I recieved a notice from Portfolio Recovery telling me they were going to sue me for 1,300. A week after that was recieved, I got another letter in the mail from another collection place saying they just bought my debt (a Wal Mart credit card) and were trying to collect on the 1,300. Since I figured they sold my debt, I ignored the letter about being sued, stupidly. Last week, I got yet another collection letter from yet another collection company about the same debt. So today I got a letter from Portfolio Recovery saying that they put a judgement against me two days ago. I never received a letter with a court date on it. I got the first letter a few months ago and that said if they didn’t hear from me, they would take me to court. There was no date on that letter. I would not have missed that date because I would have taken the letters from the other collection agencies and showed them to the judge. How can three different places be trying to collect on the same debt? I am upset now because, even though my credit was bad obviously, now I have this judgement against me. Is there anything I can do about this or is it too late? It seems to me they didn’t have a right to put a judgement against me after selling my debt off to another company.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      You may still have options. Are you in western, or eastern PA?

      • I am in western PA.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Call the attorney I just emailed you contact info for. He offers a free initial consult and can help you get your bearings straight on what next, if not help you implement what’s next.

      • Thanks for your replies. After looking at the papers I received more carefully, I think they might be fakes. There are official looking stamps and it reads pretty official, but at the very bottom is says, “This communication if from a debt collector and is an attempt to collect a debt.” It says that on all the papers.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Nearly all written communications from debt collectors like Portfolio Recovery will contain that wording. And at all stages of collection. It is required wording. It will even be something that is said to you at the beginning of phone calls with PRA.

          It would be a mistake to look at the papers as fake.

  52. I received a letter from Sessoms & Rogers, PA, which is acting as an attorney for Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA), that says “Notice of Intent to file legal action” about a month ago. And I honestly thought it was just a scare tactic because it had the usual “debt collector’ garb you receive on most junk mail from a collector. I came home a few days ago to a hanger on my door from my local sheriff’s office stating they were trying to serve a civil summons. I am going to assume PRA has actually decided to pursue the suit against me. I have not actually been served the summons yet. I wanted to get a little more info on how to handle the situation. According to the letter sent to me, my Amazon account (GE Money Bank) sold to PRA. My outstanding balance is $855.76. With the letter that was sent from the attorney is a copy of my “Summary of Account Activity” with the statement closing date of 8/26/2013. It does not show when my last payment to this account was and it’s been so long I can’t remember when that was. I believe there is a 3 year SOL here in NC. I assume this is why this course of action has been taken since that time frame is almost up. Poor decisions and being young can attribute to why I haven’t made payments on the account in the past. Money issues and loss of my job at one point accounts for why I haven’t taken care of this sooner. I intend, as I always have, to pay what I owe but I can’t pay all at once. I guess my question is where do I go from here now that apparently a summons has actually been filed. I don’t really have the extra money for an attorney but don’t want to be blindsided by PRA either. Any information would be greatly appreciated!

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Kristin – Getting your own attorney may cost you more than the total debt PRA is trying to collect.

      Can you pull together the money to negotiate and settle quickly? What if PRA would take 5 or 6 hundred if you paid that all at once? How ling would it take you to pull that together?

      • Kristin says:

        I am actually in the process now to see about getting some funds together to offer them with. Should I call PRA to see how long they will give me to come up with a lump sum? Or do I call the attorney? Also should I go ahead and let the summons be served before I make the contact? The officer that tried to serve it left a number to call. I’m guessing it can be served over the phone as well.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          The attorney for Portfolio Recovery is now your point of contact. Any call to PRA to negotiate is most likely going to get you directed to the attorney.

          Given the situation, and if you are wanting to avoid court, the timeline to negotiate and get the deal paid is how long you have to answer the complaint in your state. You do not need to be served in order to call and negotiate, but if it were me, I would call the sheriff and get the ball rolling the same day I call the PRA attorney.

  53. First and foremost, thank you for this site and your help! I received a Simmons today saying PRA is suing me fur just over.3600. The original creditor was Care.Credit for medical expenses for my family…dental and vision only. Paid on time.90% of the tinge for years. Long story short, I went on medical disability, the my husband lost his job… a year later we sunk all our retirement funds and IRA into starting and operating a business. With four children to support we are making it, but BARELY. We take it month by month, week by well, day by day.. We keep food in the table and a roof over out head and everything else fell to the wayside. We have no credit cards. All our debt is medical related or my student loam which is in deferment for financial hardship. We are in CA and are receiving government assistance for food and medical. I pulled my credit report a month ago and contacted PRA questioning the original creditor and amount. My last balance with CARE CREDIT was roughly 1900+. Spoke to a nice man twice who Gabe me an email to use to ask for an accounting. I told him I wanted to pay, but only the correct amount. Instead of an answer, I received this summons. I received no PRA letters either. Care Credit wrote of my debt of roughly 1900+ too. To complicate this more, I forgot my mom cosigned for this card years ago when I had a dental emergency. They.tried to serve her at my house too. She doesn’t even live in the state. She has never received a bill ever, much less a collections notice or summons. How does that work when the responsible parties live in CA.and.TX?? My mom will want to avoid court at all costs and will pull together finances however she must to do so, although it will be difficult. What advice can you offer me/us?

    - Embarrassed in California…

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Amy – I suppose it is possible that PRA was going to sue you for the GE Capital/Care Credit account anyway. But I could just as easily assume they only did so after running your file once they received your letter a month back. I would be really interested in seeing the exact verbiage of the letter you sent to PRA last month. It would be very cool of you to share that with me either in the comments, or off line (you can email me at the same address that sends you comment notifications).

      Before I offer more about next steps, can you tell me if it is possible for you, your mom, or both of you together, to raise roughly half the amount you are being sued for?

      • Thank you for your response and time Michael! Yes it would be possible to come up with that amount…. Difficult, but we’d do what we had to do. As for the email, it its older than my phone archives, so I can digg it out at home later, but short and brief. I basically introduced myself, said who at PRA I spoke to and when. I explained that he told me emailing them was the quickest way for me to ask for information in writing. I said that I have various medical debt and in the spirit of “trust but verify”, please send me information regarding the original debtor and an accounting that verifies the amount due. I said that if this is my debt, I would be willing to work with them despite my troubled financial state. That was it. Thank you again for your advice.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Thanks Amy. I would really like to not think the worst about debt collectors, and I try to be as balanced as possible, but first impression from what you shared, and what is going on with debt collectors nationally, what large companies like PRA have to be concerned about in the regulatory landscape, how they would like regulators to view them right now, and what your posts imply, well… perhaps Portfolio Recovery is not making good decisions to protect their shareholders.

          I may encourage you to take a few extra steps, if you are up to it, after I review the email you sent Portfolio in good faith. Based on your reply, there may still be a chance that your account was already placed with the attorney that sued you, and they just had not gotten around to sending you a dunning letter, or did not have your location to serve the lawsuit. Can you look up the court record and see what day the lawsuit was filed in the court?

          To resolve the debt with PRA, now that you have been sued, I would defend the lawsuit by working with an experienced debt collection defense attorney in California. That will have a cost, but may be better than what PRA would settle for. The attorney I would refer you to offers a no cost initial consult, so I recommend calling regardless of your inclination.

          You can also work out a settlement with PRA. I would target about 60% of the balance, but the fact that you qualify for public assistance would be an angle of financial hardship I would highlight when negotiating the pay off; along with the fact that you are getting family help to come up with the money; and see if you can get a better reduction than that.

  54. Sorry for the typos! Typing this on my phone while laying in bed awake at 2 am sick with stress and a baby in my arms… doesn’t make for clean spelling. Thanks again!

  55. Hello Michael,
    Today I received a summons from Machol & Johannes LLC representing Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC for an unpaid HSBC credit card debt in the amount of $1576.47. Sparing you my sob story about financial hardship, my credit report shows that this account went delinquent in March 2010. I live in New Mexico, and as I understand it, the statute of limitations to be sued for such a debt in New Mexico is 4 years. The summons states that I must file a written response to the court within 30 days. To be honest, I have no idea exactly what I’m supposed to do with this summons. I have a case number and an assigned judge, but there appears to be no court date anywhere. I looked up the case number on the court website, and it says it was initially filed on 6/4/2014. Part of me wants to request documents from the plaintiff’s attorney, such as credit card statements, showing when the account went delinquent just to make sure the information on my credit report is correct and also to demonstrate that it is past the statue of limitations. I have no idea how to word any of this. Is filing a statement with the court that says this debt has been delinquent for more than 4 years and is past the statue of limitations a reasonable course of action? Should I request documents, such as credit card statements, from the plaintiff’s attorney to demonstrate this? Am I totally off my nut in my understanding of the statue of limitations and for going that route?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      I would encourage you to talk about the PRA lawsuit with an experience debt collection defense attorney in New Mexico. I sent you an email with contact info to 3. And distance does not have to be an issue in these cases. If it is, ask for a referral to someone nearer to you.

      If the SOL is expired, the attorney may see a reason to take your case at no cost to you, but probably only if they believe that collection violations occurred. If not, you can certainly retain the attorney to help you answer the complaint, and defend the suit. If there is a cost, and there most likely would be (barring collection violations by portfolio recovery), you will have to way the costs of hiring the attorney against the cost to resolve the debt via a settlement. With dollar amounts this low, hiring an attorney can cost more than reaching an agreement to settle the debt. And then there is the option of fighting this on your own.

      Call one or more of the attorney’s I sent you first. Post an update with what you learn, or how you progress.

      Can you verify with your bank statements when you last paid HSBC?

      • Michael, thanks for your quick response. I no longer have the bank account I had when this went delinquent. About all I have is my credit report which shows HSBC reported it as past due in March 2010, and I haven’t been able to pay on it since. Thanks for the contact info. I’ll post updates as things progress.

  56. PRA has been calling my cell phone about my boyfriends debt. They told me he owes 238.00 the debt is with us cellular and it is from 2000. Can they still collect of this and is it real? His credit score is really good and i dont want this to hurt it but i dont want to pay if it is not his or not necessary. Thanks

    • Michael Bovee says:

      It sounds like Portfolio is calling trying to collect on a zombie debt – debt that can no longer be shown by PRA on his credit report, and that is, in all likelihood, well passed the statute of limitations for a legitimate collection lawsuit to be filed.

      You can often ignore these collection efforts, or send PRA a cease communication letter demanding collection notices and calls stop. Keep a copy of any letter send, and send certified mail return receipt requested, keeping the green card you get back in a safe place too. If PRA calls or writes after they get your letter, you have some additional options.

      The other issue here is that PRA is calling you and talking to you about debts of someone else. It is not a bad idea to run this situation by a consumer attorney with a practice that focuses on collection laws. You may have some additional options to look into. Most of this type attorney will consult with you for no charge initially. Post the name of a nearby larger city if you would like me to email you contact info to attorneys you or your boyfriend can talk with.

      • thanks for your reply. i kind of thought it was a little weird they gave me all the info. i live in Illinois close to st. louis MO.

  57. PRA has filed suit against me for an HSBC/Capital One/Orchard Bank CC alleged debt they say is $1984. Am I able to request verbally in my pretrial conference a sales contract proving ownership and assignment rights-the bill of sale included in served paperwork is blank-no name, no acct # ? The sale notes say it was in 2012, date of last pymt. During pretrial may I verbally request an accounting of alleged debt from zero balance? or does formal court papers need to be filed? I do not have any money-have severe medical issues, have not worked for months and applied for disablity and am going to file bankruptcy now. Any other way to delay this case so I can file BK and get this debt to go away? Live in Florida. Thanks for all the info you provided to others and hopefully me-I have read all of them.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Donald – If you are going to file bankruptcy and get rid of the PRA debt and lawsuit all together, and within the next couple months, I would not worry overly much about paperwork filing, or what you argue in pretrial. In fact, if it were me, I might show up for pretrial and tell them I can now see I am in over my head, and would like a continuance in order to consult with your own consumer debt collection defense attorney in order to make sure your rights are being observed.

      Have you looked at any low income legal aid options you have? If not, contact an office near you and find out if assistance is available.

  58. I am in CA, I received a letter from Wells Fargo Bank that my account that was charged off 6/13 has been sold to Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, with an outstanding balance of $4,582.78.
    I have not yet received any correspondence or telephone calls from PRA. I am curious as to what their usual practice is after they purchase a debt. Do they first contact you and request payment/settlement, etc. or do they just file a lawsuit and serve you with papers?
    I am hoping to come to a settlement agreement with them, but I am unsure if I should contact them first, or wait to hear from them.

    Thank you in advance for any information.

    KH

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Portfolio Recovery generally sends a collection notice, and will try to reach you via phone too, prior to suing in order to collect. This may include the mailed collection notice coming from an attorney, which is a clearer indication you could be sued for collection.

      There is nothing wrong with calling PRA yourself and instigating the negotiations for settlement. But I would want to be as prepared as possible with the money to follow through with any deal I am able to negotiate. Let’s say you were able to settle with PRA for half the balance. Can you pull that together?

  59. I recently discovered that Apothaker had placed a legal hold on my bank account in the amount of $3400. I have not received any letters from them nor have I been served any legal papers. I don’t know what to do next. I have no access to money (what little there was in the account). I am at wit’s end regarding this. I pulled my credit reports and nothing is on them for this amount. I have 2 negative incidents, one for $375 that was charged off and one for $425 that I am currently making payments on.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      Apothaker would have been able to freeze money in your bank account due to a judgment. Not all judgments end up on your credit report, or perhaps the one they are relying on already aged off your credit. This could be a mistake, or even a judgment from a lawsuit you knew absolutely nothing about until now (it happens).

      Ask your bank for the information provided by Apothaker so that you can go look up the judgment in the court they say they have one in. Post what you learn and lets go from there.

  60. Hi there, I have been receiving notices from local law firms stating I’m being sued by PRA. They own 2 debts of mine, both equaling approximately $2500. I do not have the money for an attorney at the moment and I think I could probably settle for about $1200. Do you think they’d go for it if I contacted them now? I haven’t received a summons, if they after to settle; how shall I respond to the summons when I get it? Will they drop the case if we reach a settlement agreement? What should me my next steps? I would really like to avoid court if possible, I don’t have the total amount but I can do a one time lump sum for a percentage.

    Sincerely,

    Brittney

    • Michael Bovee says:

      You can settle with PRA, but the 1200 you can get your hands on may not be enough. If you are in a situation where you cannot fully afford what they will accept in a lump sum, and then think a payment plan would be better, Portfolio Recovery would like that too. They tend to want to be paid much more with the payment arrangements, than the lump sum settlement.

      You may be able to afford an attorney to defend and get dismissal. I have seen some take on cases for less than what you have available to settle. And because consulting with an experienced debt defense attorney is typically going to be no cost initially, I would get a consult with one first, before taking any steps to try and negotiate with PRA.

      Those local law firm solicitations may not lead to an experienced debt defense attorney, and are likelier to be from a bankruptcy attorney. If you post the name of a nearby larger city, I can email you contact details for any I find nearer you with the experience you need.

  61. Hello
    I have been recieving calls for months now. I kid received the first piece if mail. It says, because of the age of the debt we will not sue you for it and we can not report it to any credit reporting agency.

    What does this mean???

    • Michael Bovee says:

      How long has it been since you last paid any amount to anyone regarding the debt PRA is now calling and sending collection letters about?

      When those collection notices say the debt is too old to sue, it means they will not try to collect through the courts. But the debt is still collectable, and can remain on your credit reports until the time allowed for the negative to stay expires too.

      What is your goal with this debt?

      • I believe I last paid in 2006 or 2007. And I was last paying it off using green path. I actually thought it was all paid off.

        But they said they cannot report it. And last time I checked my credit report. There was nothing on it for this account.

        • Michael Bovee says:

          Have you contacted Green Path to verify that their records show they paid the original creditor, or Portfolio Recovery, all of the balance owed while you were enrolled in a debt management plan with them? Did you complete your DMP with Green path?

          Once an account passes the legal limit to sue you legitimately for collection, and is passed the time to continue to appear on your credit reports, it is okay to send a debt collector a letter requesting all communication to cease. When sending letters to debt collectors use certified mail return receipt, and keep a copy of your letters and the green return cards in a safe place. In case they misbehave later, you want to have proof you sent your letters.

  62. My husband received paperwork from the courts saying that he is subject to mediation pursuant to the Court Annexed Alternative Disputer Resolution rules from Portfolio Recovery. What should our first step be? We live in SC.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      I would connect with an experienced debt collection defense attorney about what is going on. What is the name of a nearby larger city? I can email you contact info to any I find with the experience you need. Most of this attorney type will offer a no cost initial consult, so the price is right.

  63. The closest big city would be Anderson or Greenville SC. Thanks for the quick reply.

  64. Should we go ahead and call the law firm stated in the claim? The paperwork just states that he is summoned and required to serve a copy of our answer to the subscriber. It says if we fail to answer complaint the plaintiff will apply to the court for action? What exactly does this mean?

    • Michael Bovee says:

      I sent an email with contact details to two attorneys that re a bit further out than the cities you identified. Distance does not have to be an issue with these cases. I have an attorney near me who works with people all over the state of Washington.

      How much is PRA suing your husband for? When did he last make a payment on the debt?

      I can offer some general feedback about what is going on, but your best responses are going to come from the attorney(s) you speak to this week, who help people deal with debt collection lawsuits from Portfolio Recovery in South Carolina courts.

  65. It is for about 2000 dollars. Last payment an out a year and a half ago. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and we got a little behind.

    • Michael Bovee says:

      You could find settling with PRA to be about as cost effective as defending the suit to a successful conclusion.

  66. Firstly, thank you for offering a resource to those experiencing less than favorable situations with debt, summons, etc. It can be a very scary experience,especially if not accustomed to receiving a summons or having ever been sued for anything! I returned home from work to a very frightening and disturbing situation that ultimately has angered me to the point that I’m willing to do whatever needs to be done to fight this summons! Portfolio Recovery Associates brought a summons to my PARENTS’ HOUSE while I was at work today. My elderly mother received it it my absence and to add to her already frail physical state, she is now emotional and crying over what she feels is the worst thing in the world for her child.

    I had a Capital One credit card which unfortunately fell behind on payments during a period of unemployment and later low income. While I made attempts to make payment arrangements and eventually settle, they never accepted my offer and as a result fees and more interest accrued. I received notices from Portfolio (and if i’m not mistaken a different company previously) and knew the debt had been sold. I mistakenly thought that if I just ignored the letters, calls, etc.I could begin paying on it once the income was there . Well today proved me wrong. Now I have 30 days to answer a complaint and have no idea where to start. I’ve been obsessively googling answers and trying to figure out what to do. The only consensus I’ve found is that i should definitely answer the complaint b/c failure to do so results in my automatically losing…and that at this point its too late to make any offer to pay and settle. Some sites suggest denying the debt; however PRA has included bills from Jan and Feb 2013 Exhibits I’m assuming as proof. They also included a Bill of Sale dated Feb. 2014. The amount of the charge off is $5194. I’m at a loss and feel I have no leg to stand on! I sincerely appreciate any advice you can share. Thank you so much!

    • Michael Bovee says:

      First things first:

      What state are you in?
      Would you be able to pool, say 60% of the balance, and settle with Portfolio Recovery? If so, how long would it take?

  67. Also “Proof of ADR” is mentioned. Could you shed some light on what that is? I also don’t think I mentioned I have 30 days to answer. Thanks!

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