$83 Million FCDPA Violation
A Kansas City, Missouri woman named Maria Mejia was accused of having a credit card debt with Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC that amounted to a little over $1000. After repeatedly harassing Mejia about the debt for over fifteen months, the company decided to sue her. However, Mejia was not actually responsible for the debt because the credit card did not belong to her. It belonged to a man with a similar name that lived in Kansas City, Kansas. Therefore, she retaliated and countersued Portfolio Recovery Associates for “malicious prosecution”. Not only did the company consistently harass Mejia for over a year, they didn’t even have the correct documentation for the owner of the debt!
Last October, the case went to court in Missouri. The jury ruled in favor of Maria Mejia, and deliberated for a significant chunk of time before deciding on the proper penalty for Portfolio Recovery Associates. After months of deliberation, the jury awarded Mejia with $252,000 and charged Portfolio Recovery Associates a penalty of $83 million for their serious offenses toward Mejia and for their FDCPA violation. Portfolio Recovery Associates is currently attempting to appeal the self-described “outlandish” verdict, so they won’t have to pay the severe penalty.
The error that Portfolio Recovery Associates made in going after the wrong person for a debt was incredibly sloppy, but not uncommon. Incorrect or false documentation of debt is something that happens surprisingly often with debt collectors, and is grounds for legal action. Although the most common form of harassment in these particular cases is through telephone calls and text messages, the nature of the calls is not regulated by the TCPA. Instead, it does fall under the FDCPA, which deals specifically in cases involving debt collection.