Portfolio Recovery Associates Lawsuits: 9 Steps You Can Take to Avoid 9 Common Mistakes

If your debt has been sold to Portfolio Recovery Associates, a lawsuit may already be in the works against you.

Portfolio Recovery Associates buys the collection rights to past-due accounts at pennies on the dollar. However, they are much more likely to use the legal system as a battering ram than your original creditor would be. Filing a lawsuit may even be the first contact they make with you.

Here are 9 steps to take if Portfolio Recovery Associates is suing you for credit card debt or other accounts past due.

1. Don’t let fear or anxiety paralyze you. That’s what they count on. Like most debt collectors, Portfolio Recovery Associates preys on consumers who are struggling financially, overwhelmed, and often unable to handle the conflict and paperwork that lawsuits bring. By filing suit against you they are essentially making a wager, and the bet is that you won’t respond, won’t challenge their accounting, and probably won’t even show up in court. They win far too many judgments by betting correctly on this.

2. Don’t ignore the situation. It will cost you more. Thousands of unfortunate consumers across Texas can attest to this sad fact. Portfolio Recovery Associates’s lawyers are aggressive, and if you ignore the suit you will pay dearly. They will just get a default judgment against you, and with all the extra fees and penalties they impose you could end up paying much more than the amount you originally owed. They can even freeze your bank account without warning with a judgment!

2. Read all court papers thoroughly, and locate the key information. It can be scary to see the consequences of your financial distress laid out in a legal document, but you have to focus on three things: dates, dollars, and time. Make sure you understand the timeline for response, when your court appearance is scheduled, and the details of Portfolio Recovery Associates’s financial claim against you. In Texas you have 14 calendar days to respond to a lawsuit filed in a JP court and 20 calendar days plus the next Monday to respond to a lawsuit filed in County or District Court.

3. Stay on top of deadlines. You will have a certain amount of days to respond to the initial lawsuit, but don’t wait till the last minute. Failure to respond could result in a judgment against you. Procrastination increases the chance that you will either miss the deadline or mess up the paperwork.

4. File a credible response. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the fact you can’t pay the debt right now means that Portfolio Recovery Associates lawsuits can’t win a judgment against you. If the debt is accurate and it’s yours, the court can use bank garnishment or other legal means to ensure you pay up over time. Therefore, your written response to the lawsuit must be credible, and you must take the suit seriously. It is often best to seek the counsel of a Consumer Credit Attorney that can help. Most attorneys that help consumers do so at a much lower cost with extended payment plans.

5. Address all follow-up requests for facts or documentation in a timely manner. Don’t assume that your initial response to a lawsuit is the only one required. During the discovery phase, prior to the court date, both sides are allowed to make written requests for further information and documentation. If Portfolio Recovery Associates makes a request and you fail to answer it, the judge may deem you uncooperative and that won’t work in your favor.

6. Don’t make it easy on them. You also have the legal right to make your own written requests for information, and to demand that Portfolio Recovery Associates verify the accuracy of your debt. Use it. Request documentation that proves the amount of the original debt, and also make them justify any fees of penalties added to the total you owe. Don’t let false or misleading accusations against you stand without answering them. In short, hold Portfolio Recovery Associates accountable, and make them prove their case.

7. Don’t continue making payments on your debt during the lawsuit. You may see it as a good-faith gesture, but if making payments has not stopped Portfolio Recovery Associates from suing you, it won’t make the case go away either. And if they are adding interest or penalties to the amount you owe, continuing to make payments may not even reduce your original debt.

8. If you can negotiate a settlement before the case comes to trial, get a written agreement that resolves the debt in full. If you want to settle, don’t be swayed by Portfolio Recovery Associates’s strong-arm tactics or claims about their ability to win the case. Just make an offer in writing that comes with one important condition – it is a full and final payment to resolve the debt for good. That way they can never come after you for the same debt again.

9. Don’t hesitate to consult an attorney if you need help completing any of the steps above, or representation when the suit goes to court. Portfolio Recovery Associates may have teams of lawyers suing consumers across America, but don’t think they won’t be ready and focused on you when their day in court comes.

The J. Gannon Helstowski Law Firm has its own team of debt lawsuit specialists who regularly take on the debt collection industry and expose its shady legal practices. We are experienced in fighting Portfolio Recovery Associates in and out of court, and we know how to bring your case to a full and final resolution.