U.S. watchdog orders Virginia debt collector to pay $24 mln for illegal practices
March 23 (Reuters) - A Virginia debt collection company has agreed to pay $24 million over allegedly illegal practices, the top U.S. agency for consumer financial protection said on Thursday, adding that the company had violated a previous order.
Rohit Chopra, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said Portfolio Recovery Associates had been "caught red handed" in 2015, but had persisted in "intimidation, deception and illegal ... tactics" to collect on unsubstantiated and undocumented consumer debt in recent years.
"CFPB orders are not suggestions, and companies cannot ignore them simply because they are large or dominant in the market," Chopra added.
Portfolio Recovery Associates said it had admitted to no wrongdoing.
In 2015 the CFPB ordered Portfolio Recovery Associates to cease collecting on debts without reasonable basis, selling debt, or threatening to sue or suing when it had no intent to prove the claims. The company agreed to pay $27 million to resolve the allegations.
The CFPB on Thursday said the company broke a number of provisions related to that order. The $24 million payment agreement includes a fine, as well as repayment to consumers harmed, pending court approval.
In a statement, Portfolio Recovery Associates said it was committed to dealing fairly and respectfully with its clients.
"Although we have admitted to no wrongdoing as part of the resolution, and we continue to disagree with the CFPB's characterization of our conduct, we are pleased to have this matter resolved and behind us," Kevin Stevenson, president and chief executive of parent company PRA Group Inc (PRAA.O), said in a statement.
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