Portfolio Recovery Associates: Illegal? (in Off-topic)

MissingNo January 11 2009 9:50 PM EST

I got a phone call today from a very Southern-sounding lady who told me that I owe a debt from a year when I had 2 hospital visits at my college last year. She went on to tell me the dates of my visit to the hospital and all that information. She said my bill was around $600 but the company would lower it to $297 and that an automatic withdrawal could be made from my account every month.

She then went on to tell me to go get my checkbook and "tell [her] some numbers". I'm probably naive as dirt, but that just sounded like a big red flag so I told her I wouldn't say anything over the phone without documentation. At that point I went to talk to my dad and he yelled at me for even talking to her for so long and told me to tell her to just say send a bill and hang up.

The entire phone call sounded really fishy because I am covered by health insurance anyway and my dad isn't the type of person who doesn't pay bills.

I went to go look up this company on the internet and surely enough, a lot of people were complaining that they tried to collect debt from as far back as 22 years ago, way past the statutes of limitation. I didn't even know companies could buy debts from other companies.

However, I did tell her to call back tomorrow. What is the legality of this? I mean if I had given her my account information, what would have stopped anyone from withdrawing everything in the entire account? From what other people have been saying about this company, it's not one to cease and desist. Anyone have experience with this company or companies like this that could perhaps offer me some advice on what I should do, especially in all honestly the outstanding debt probably doesn't even exist anyway?

Yukk January 11 2009 10:08 PM EST

Just do as your dad said. Bell in Canada is chasing me for $200 for long distance calls made using a calling card I had after I'd closed my account to move. I told Bell this and that I wouldn't pay for such stupidity specially since they say they don't have records of the calls and they sold the bill to a collection agency. So every couple of years the "debt" gets sold off to another company and they call me and I tell them what happened and they don't bother me again, but they do sell it to someone else ... and so on.

Yukk January 11 2009 10:11 PM EST

Oops, I meant to say than unless they can show you a bill and your dad can check his records and corroborate its validity you should just tell them to go away or talk to him.

Unappreciated Misnomer January 11 2009 10:30 PM EST

for sure this was a debt collector. the first call is to demand the payment in full, but now they are wanting to collect as much information about your current financial situation. if they cant get you to get your dad to pay for it, theyll accept monthly payments as a last resort and thats with automatic withdraw from your bank account. you are in your rights to as for documentation before proceeding any further. so tell them tomorrow when they call back that youll look over the paper work and youll call them. dont give in to any demands or threats. if they start to verbally harrass you too much demand that you only want to be contacted by mail. you may end up having to send a letter to the collection office stating you only wished to be contacted through the mail other while you can have them charged and they can be fined or lose their collection permit. even demand the credential of your case handler to verify that they are indeed certified to collect in your state. you can make them waste enough time and money by knowing all this, they might as well give up for only a few hundred dollars.

questions to expect:
conforming of your name and address
do you work/go to school
any other bills or dependants
what you plan to do about this?
theyll try to get a good faith payment

the more information they get about you, the less statistically you are to run from this debt.

j'bob January 11 2009 11:09 PM EST

"She then went on to tell me to go get my checkbook and "tell [her] some numbers"."

Be VERY VERY careful. And if you do indeed verify that this is a legit collection agency (ouch, that hurt to even say) and that it IS a legit bill (I'd also recommend contacting your insurance carrier to see what was and was not covered/paid out) I would highly recommend against giving those "numbers" off your check. Once they have the account and routing number from your check they would be able to continue making deductions well past what you agreed to give them. You'd have to take them to court to get any such money back and it would be a monumental pain in the tulkas! Technically, once a company has that bank info of yours (ie the virtual voided check) the only way to keep them from continuing to take money from that account is to "stop" the check in question and that "stop" only lasts for 6 months after which time you have to PAY your bank to put another stop on or they can start withdrawing money again.
But then, I've just seen to much and am now throughly paranoid...

<.< >.>

Lady Die January 11 2009 11:15 PM EST

No, I completely agree. If you decide to send them money, send a money order. That way they have no bank info and they have their 'Good Faith Payment'.

Thak January 11 2009 11:24 PM EST

I had a similar call awhile ago and looked into them myself. They change the comapny name like every 6 months or so operating as a subsidiary to a bogus company if i remember correctly.

tell them to kiss off. there was a string of these going around earlier last year.

It is probably the same company based out of california and they bought old debts for pennies and trying to scare people into paying them when they dont have to or already have.

Just ignore them. One lady told them that her husband was a cop and to hold on a sec while she got him on the phone and they hung up.

As your father said dont pay anything to them. if it is legit they will send a bill as your father said.

MissingNo January 12 2009 12:34 AM EST

Thanks for all the advice, guys. I've learned something today.

Adminedyit [Superheros] January 12 2009 5:40 AM EST

I went through something similar to this with Ford Motor Credit. My first advice is don't send them a single dime until you know 100% for sure that you even owe them anything. Contact your insurance company talk to someone there about this. With insurance and a hospital there is sure to be a paper trail of some kind.

But DO NOT send them anything. If you send them money then you are making an admission of guilt that you owe them and they are entitled to collect the full amount, no matter how sweetly the southern chic put it.

I had a vehicle i bought through Ford, (long story made short) i wrecked it, my insurance covered everything but the $500 deductible which i paid for with a check. 2 years later i get a call from a collection agency for the $500. A copy of the cashed check apparently wasn't good enough for them so i had to get the State Attorney General involved (they do things like this for free) problem solved?

Two weeks later i get a call from another collection agency for the same $500. A four way conference call between myself, the attorney generals from NY and Illinois, and the second debt collection agency have so far straightened this out. I keep a copy of that cashed check in my strong box as well.

But vines, don't make a payment to anyone till you are fully sure that you actually owe them money, and never ever give out financial information like bank accounts or SS numbers to anyone over the phone.

{cb2}ShadeSlayer January 12 2009 5:48 AM EST

If they get upset, and or harass you to many times, you can send a letter to the Attorney General of your state, and they will have they "Collection Company" Write off the debt, if they call again they will be fined 10,000 to 50,000 for harassment charges... I had the same problem with 1st. Financial Bank, i get calls everyday, i don't even pick up the phone anymore... I just let it go straight to Voice Mail.

Brakke Bres [Ow man] January 12 2009 5:48 AM EST

Hi my name is Mumfufu, you still owe me money from 30 years ago, can I please have your CC number expiration date and sn number so I can automatically draw the cash from it, no hassle to you Sir. K thank u BB.

Sounds almost similar.

And I had 4 words in this piece of text that the spell checker flagged. Time to erase this little function from CB.
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