Portfolio Recovery Associates (“PRA”) Is Now a Global Debt Collector

Like Encore, debt-buyer Portfolio Recovery Associates recently held its quarterly call with investors (transcript available here, signup required). Like Encore, Portfolio emphasized its growth outside the United States, in Europe and South America. Portfolio appears to be some way behind Encore in this expansion, although it does have some very far flung outposts – as far as Poland, which apparently produces about $1 million per month in cash collections.

Portfolio differs from Encore in another important respect. It’s business appears to be shifting away from litigated debt collection and towards the older model of call center-based collection. This trend was noted in the call and portrayed as a consequence of general economic recovery making consumers more willing to agree payment plans when collection calls were made. Litigation, says Portfolio, is our “last resort”.

The increased importance of call center collection may be the reason for Portfolio’s interest in the FCC’s recent declaratory ruling on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (summarized by the Consumer Law & Policy Blog here). Portfolio described the decision as “disappointing”, “deeply flawed” and “politically driven”. Certain the FCC’s ruling was unfavorable to debt collectors, but, as Portfolio admits, it does not prohibit collectors from doing anything that was not already prohibited.

Portfolio, too, has regulatory issues with the CFPB, although as with Encore, nothing more is known about them, except that there are “ongoing discussions”.