I got a notice in the mail from this company to pay a debt that I knew nothing about and had never been contacted about before. I immediately sent them a dispute letter (always recommended) and asked them to provide specific information in writing about this debt as proof that I owe it. They replied with a lame response that gave me nothing I asked for except a "pay us or interest will continue to accrue." I have just sent yet another round-2 dispute letter, but not before I contacted my attorney which I informed them of in the letter should they not provide me with the specific info in writing that I originally requested and they continue to pursue this.
This bottom-feeder company and others like them pay anywhere from 1-3 cents on the dollar for their "accounts" and are ruthless in their attempts to get their $$ back. Just google "portfolio recovery associates complaints" (or any of your other favorite collection company names) and you'll see links and links to people's horrible experiences with them. Portfolio Recovery told one poor guy that he had papers "served" to him (unbeknownst to him at the time but later discovered, these papers were found tucked into the bushes on his front lawn)!!
When you get a collection letter and you question it, be absolutely sure to respond. If you're supposed to appear in court, do so, since by not appearing, these guys are winning by default. So much so that the prez of Recovery Assoc. has since started other collection companies due to their intimidating success. Protect yourself and Don't let them get you - if you're not sure about the debt, speak up!