Portfolio Recovery Associates — How to deal with these scam artists
OK people here's how to deal with these bottom feeders if they contact you.
1) Never admit that you owe anything or give them any personal details.
2) Always ask for a verification of the alleged debt to be sent to you in writing stating the original lender, date of last payment and when they bought this debt. These are required by Federal law so that you can contact the original lender or dispute the debt.
3) When phoning the number they give you via their automated calling system advise the person who answers that the call will be recorded. This will normally result in a hang up so if you want to have fun and don't have to pay for long distance calls have fun and call them back repeatedly ;)
4) If they do continue and are not as usual abusive ask them to remove your number from their database immediately or you will start legal action for harassment. This will normally work as they know that any debt they are trying to collect is usually way past any legal collection action.
5) Within a week after (maybe) talking to them use a free site such as creditkarma.com to check your credit report. I say this as these people are known for either reporting a false payment in an attempt to reactivate the debt or they make a hard inquiry on your report to try to hurt your credit status. Both of these tactics are illegal (fraud) and if you see them used save/print your report and seek legal advice straight away.
6) Remember at all times to be polite as even if they don't advise you of it. they do routinely record calls, you want them to be in the wrong not you ;)
Finally if you do or did ever actually owe the money they are talking about check your State's statute of limitations on pursuing old debt. I would expect that even if you did owe it it's way past any legal action. BUT if you do agree and actually pay them even $1 then they can legally reactivate the debt and you personally become liable for the entire amount plus any interest they want to add!
I hope this helps someone and to be honest these tactics will work with any collection agency that uses harassment and illegal tactics to try to scare people into paying money they do not legally owe.