Over the last several years I have received many vaguely threatening telephone messages from a company called Portfolio Recovery Associates. On July21, 2015 I answered a call by a collections agent at this company. He told me the call was being monitored so the company must have a recording that will support my statements. The agent identified himself as “Mr. Johnson” and would not tell me his first name. He claimed my wife and I owe $4,000 to someone or some company which he refused to identify. If you knew us, you would realize how ridiculous it is to suggest that we would default or refuse to pay an honest debt. I felt insulted. He asked me if I could resolve this matter or if he would have to undertake “further collection activity.” When I asked him to explain this veiled threat he became abusive and hung up on me.
My wife and I have no reason to fear “further collection activity,” including a lawsuit. This company cannot bully us but I worry that they can bully others who may not have the resources to battle their frivolous lawsuits and may be frightened by “Mr. Johnson’s” threats. Powerless people have traditionally been the targets of *** artists posing as legitimate businesspeople. For example, I worry about recently divorced people, whose emotional distress may make them agree to pay former spouses’ debts, and recent immigrants, for whom English is a second language and who may not fully understand what “Mr. Johnson” is trying to do to them.
After my July 21 conversation the harassing calls increased in frequency, to several a day. I finally filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. A week later I got an e-mail from the company saying they were sorry for the “misunderstanding.” They were looking for someone else and the harassing calls would stop. Now I am really worried! I have a few shares in a mutual fund that owns PRA stock. As an investor I am really concerned about the way this company *** away resources. I received between 500 and 1,000 hang-up calls before my BBB complaint made them realize they had the wrong person! How much did it cost to make these totally unnecessary calls? Is this merely incompetence and stupidity? Can a company possibly make money by doing this? What kind of a screwed-up business model is this? It irks me that this company was simultaneously harassing me and picking my pocket. Do shareholders have any recourse in such a situation?
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