A Missouri jury ordered Portfolio Recovery, a large bad-debt buyer, to pay nearly $83 million to Maria Guadalupe Mejia, of Kansas City, Missouri, because they pursued her for a $1,000 credit card bill that didn’t belong to her. The jury found the collector violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act which is a $250,000 fine. Further, it was found that because Portfolio Recovery maliciously prosecuted Mejia, they were ordered to pay $82,990,000 in punitive damages.
In 2013, Portfolio Recovery sued Mejia over the credit card debt even though it actually belonged to a man in Kansas City, Kansas with a similar name. The company sued Mejia for 15 months. In a written statement, Mejia said, “The lawsuit terrified me.”
When individuals hear from debt collectors, they often feel fear, even if the claim is not legitimate. The first thing consumers should do when they hear from a debt collector is ask the collector to validate the debt in writing. It is imperative to know your debt collection rights as a consumer so you don’t end up paying a debt that is not yours or allow the collection account to damage your credit standing.