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Portfolio Recovery Associates Time-Barred Debt Collection FDCPA Class Action

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Debt collectors know many ways to mislead consumers and to pressure them into paying their debts, sometimes at the cost of other needed expenses. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) was passed, among other things, to try to stop debt collectors from misleading consumers. The complaint for this class action alleges that Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC sent a letter to consumer debtors which violates the FDCPA.

The class for this action is

  • All individuals with addresses in Kentucky
  • To whom Portfolio Recovery Associates sent a letter trying to collect a consumer debt
  • Which contained settlement offers, and
  • Which did not disclose that making a payment could restart the statute of limitations, and
  • Which implied that Portfolio has voluntarily chosen not to sue the individual, and
  • Which was sent between January 8, 2018 and January 29, 2019.

Plaintiff Lachristal Lewis allegedly incurred a debt to Capital One Bank, for personal, family, or household purposes. At some point, the debt was assigned to Portfolio for collection.

Portfolio sent Lewis a letter dated February 13, 2018 attempting to collect the debt. The letter offered her multiple payment options, including payments that would take place over several months. The letter includes the lines, “The law limits how long you can be sued on a debt. Because of the age of your debt, we will not sue you for it.”

This line is misleading, the complaint says. 

First, with the phrase “we will not sue,” it implies that Portfolio is voluntarily holding off on suing and may change its mind at any time. This, the complaint says, is not true—Portfolio is not legally able to sue because the debt is “stale” or time-barred. This means that the statute of limitations on the debt has expired and that no one may sue for it.

Second, the letter does not mention that any payment on the debt can restart the statute of limitations. If Lewis accepts any of the payment plans and pays even $1 toward the debt, it could restore Portfolio’s right to sue her.

The complaint thus contends that the letter omitted important information about the debt, its status, and partial payment of the debt that Lewis, or any consumer, must know in order to make the best possible decisions about making payments. It says the letter also misrepresented “the character, amount or legal status of the debt” in not explaining that it was time-barred. These are violations of the FDCPA, the complaint says, and they add up to using “unfair or unconscionable means” in attempting to collect the debt.

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