Bureau seeks north of $24 million from debt collector for ‘repeat offender’ actions violating 2015 order

More than $24 million in fines and restitution for alleged illegal debt collection practices has been proposed against a Norfolk, Va., firm by the federal consumer financial protection agency Thursday in what it termed action against a repeat offender.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said the action against Portfolio Recovery Associates (which the agency termed one of the largest debt collectors in the nation) was for “continued illegal debt collection practices and consumer reporting violations.” The agency also said the firm filed lawsuits against consumer even when it lacked documentation about the debt.

Under an order offered to the court by CFPB, Portfolio Recovery Associates would be required to pay more than $12 million to consumers harmed by its illegal debt collection practices, in addition to a $12 million penalty.

According to CFPB, Portfolio Recovery Associates violated a 2015 order by collecting on unsubstantiated debt, collecting on debt without providing required documentation and disclosures to consumers, suing or threatening legal action against consumers without offering or possessing required documentation, and suing to collect on debt outside the statute of limitations.

“Portfolio Recovery Associates also failed to properly investigate and resolve consumer disputes about the company’s credit reporting,” CFPB said, adding that Thursday’s action was one of many the agency has recently taken to hold repeat offenders accountable.

The bureau said in 2015 it ordered the firm to pay more than $27 million in consumer refunds and penalties for deceptive debt collection tactics. It said then that Portfolio Recovery Associates collected on unsubstantiated debt, filed misleading affidavits in debt-collection actions, misrepresented that it intended to prove debts if consumers contested them, and misrepresented that the company had legally enforceable claims to debts outside of the applicable statutes of limitations.

The complaint filed Thursday claims that Portfolio Recovery Associates violated numerous requirements of the 2015 order during the five-year period the order was in effect and engaging in deceptive conduct in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA).

CFPB Orders Repeat Offender Portfolio Recovery Associates to Pay More Than $24 Million for Continued Illegal Debt Collection Practices and Consumer Reporting Violations