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


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.



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.

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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.


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6 thoughts on “How Can We Get Portfolio Recovery Associates to Really Validate a Debt?”

  1. Nellie, I am someone who deals with PRA and others like them on a daily basis both in issues related to debt relief and credit restoration services. It appears you have chosen to rely on information that is readily available online but not factual. There is nowhere in any law that says a collector must produce a signed contract in order to validate a debt. That is a complete internet-driven myth. In truth, once thirty days have passed since they sent out the very first letter they do not legally have to send you anything at all. They can simply ignore your letters if they choose to and you cannot do anything about it. Even within the first thirty-day disputing window, the courts have established a very low threshold for what is required to satisfy a validation request. Most of the time a copy of just one billing statement from the original creditor with your name on it is more than sufficient evidence.

    If you truly believe you are the victim of identity theft there are protections in place that will get the item removed from your credit report fairly quickly. However, it will involve obtaining a police report and signing a sworn affidavit that you have been victimized. If you are not willing to do those things your best bets are the ones already given to you by Steve and Michael.

    Good luck with whatever you choose to do next.

    Blessings, Kyle

    • Thank you for the comment, Kyle. It is always a balancing act between the fight versus the reward. Is a pay to delete strategy the best approach? If the goal is to just get the listing off the credit report ASAP for another purpose, then the time saved and confidence it is put to rest has a value. I’ve seen people pay questionable small debts just to put it all behind them.

      I have a recollection of doing just that with a $24 disputed debt in my own life. Is that the right thing to do? Yes, maybe, and no is the correct answer. LOL.

      The validation issue is a black hole for sure. Like you, I’ve seen many poorly returned validation requests but unless people are willing to roll the dice in court, there isn’t much power behind a crappy validated debt. I love your statement “They can simply ignore your letters if they choose to and you cannot do anything about it.” True!

      I have seen cases where poorly validated debts have been dismissed or refused by the court to be valid. But courts are fickle and there is never a guarantee.

      In my world, the debt validation approach seems to have been used more as a sales gimmick for some debt relief outfits like https://www.consumerfinance.gov/enforcement/actions/federal-debt-assistance-association-llc-financial-document-assistance-administration-inc-clear-solutions-inc-robert-pantoulis-david-piccione-and-vincent-piccione/

  2. Thanks Steve! We’ve been working on improving our credit profile by cleaning up questionable entries in our credit reports for the last 8 months, in hopes of qualifying for a better fixed rate when we refi our 1st and Heloc together in August of this year (provided it still makes sense then despite rates continuing to climb). So we’d really like to get that collections entry off our report if at all possible, so we’ll give option 3 a try. I guess this time we’ll contact them on the phone instead of via certified mail and hopefully come to an agreeable solution. Will keep you posted. Thanks again for your input! 😃


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