CFPB Debt Collection Complaint Ranking*:
#2 of 2,458 Companies
Lawsuits, Penalties, or Sanctions:
In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (an independent government agency charged with protecting consumers in financial affairs) took adverse action against Portfolio Recovery, to the tune of about $30 Million. In its order, CFPB Richard Cordray said “... Portfolio Recovery threatened and deceived consumers to collect on debts they should have known were inaccurate or had other problems.”
Location and Contact Details:
PRA Group, Inc.
120 Corporate Boulevard
Norfolk, VA 23502
Current CEO: Steve Fredrickson
Debt-buying collector. Using a strategy of buying large volumes of deeply discounted defaulted consumer debt straight from original creditors, and then collecting on it at face value plus interest using mostly its own employees, Portfolio/PRA Group has become a company worth over $2 Billion and is one of the biggest consumer debt-buying collectors in the nation. Faced with an inadequate supply of debt domestically, it is expanding its acquisitions overseas into Europe, South America, and beyond. They employ over 3500 people worldwide.
Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc. (aka PRA Group, Inc.) In the mid 1990’s, Steve Fredrickson was a banker working in Chicago for Household Finance Corp - one of the original subprime lenders - working on the issue of how to sell off that company’s defaulted commercial loans at what price and to whom. At about this time, the Resolution Trust Corporation, which was a government entity created to absorb and re-distribute the assets of failed Savings & Loan Banks in the wake of the OTHER mostly mortgage-backed failure of U.S. financial institutions in the early to mid 1980’s (remember that one?) was finishing its work by pooling the assets and finding private buyers to acquire those pools and share the risk.
Steve Fredrickson was transferred to Virginia Beach, Virginia not long after with the mission to lead Household’s brand new consumer debt sales division. That effort flopped but Fredrickson had gotten the idea already. In 1996, he and Household co-worker Kevin Stevenson launched Portfolio Recovery with a handful of employees. Six years later, with some external backing, it became a public company.
“[O]ur consent order with the CFPB marks a significant new chapter for PRA, as we put a large piece of regulatory uncertainly behind us and work towards completing the build out of a now well-defined compliance regime with a clear expectation of what is expected of the organization on a go-forward basis.”
* Ranking determined by the overall number of debt collection complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as of year-end 2015 and should be considered in context of company size and/or market share. See the CFPB debt collection complaint database in real-time here.
** Vicky Payton, a debt collector at Portfolio Recovery Associates, waits for her turn to get on the phone on Monday, June 24th, 2013.
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