How Can We Get Portfolio Recovery Associates to Really Validate a Debt?

Question:

Dear Steve,

We are disputing a collections account with Portfolio Recovery Associates for just over $500.

They bought the debt from Synchrony Bank in 2019 and have been reporting on it since.

The Synchrony account was from 2017, so it’s past the SOL in our state. The debt was from a one-day transaction at a distant retail store.

We do not recognize it, but since it’s within drivable distance and a store we’ve shopped at in the past (at nearby locations), we requested validation of the debt.

PRA has provided all the requested documentation except for the original signed contract and proof they can legally collect on debts in our state. (We’ve recently had a different store account fraudulently opened in 2017 successfully removed from our credit file, so we’re very wary and suspect this may be another unfortunate occurrence).

In response to our second written request, PRA stated they’ve concluded their investigation (without providing the two items listed above) and have deemed the account verified.

They also state in their collection mailings that they do not intend to sue us regarding this debt due to its age.

We, however, want the negative entry resolved so it doesn’t adversely affect our credit rating.

How do you propose we proceed from here?

If they cannot provide a signed contract proving we were the account owners, isn’t the debt then invalid and removed from our credit reports?

How do we get the collections removed when PRA appears unwilling to do anything else with them?

Our initial direct dispute with the credit reporting agency returned as “verified,” and no changes were made in our credit profile.

Thank you so much for your time and input.

Nellie

Answer:

Dear Nellie,

I spoke with my friend Michael Bovee from Consumer Recovery Network to pick his brain on this since he deals a lot with Portfolio Recovery Associates. We both agree.

For most people, the old account is not as much of an issue as it gets older and older. However, this account is from 2017, and your credit report should reflect that.

If you’ve been focused on building new good credit, then the impact of this old account is not significant and might be more of an irritation than a critical issue.

But Michael did offer this suggestion, “you can negotiate with Portfolio Recovery Associates to pay part of the balance, typically 45 percent or so, and they will agree to delete it from your credit reports.”

So it is really up to you. You have three choices:

  1. Continue to fight and disagree with them, and don’t expect more progress.
  2. Ignore it, let it age off your credit report, and focus on building strong credit, so it doesn’t matter.
  3. Pay part of the debt you object to and get it removed from your credit report. If you do this, get it from them in writing.

Let me know what you decide to do by posting a comment below.

Sincerely,

You are not alone. I’m here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don’t give up.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach