Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is there a notice?

    A court authorized the Notice because you have a right to know about a proposed settlement of this class action lawsuit and about all of your options before the Court decides whether to give Final Approval to the Settlement. The Notice explains the lawsuit, the Settlement, and your legal rights.

    Click here to see a copy of the Notice

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  2. What is this lawsuit about?

    The Class Representative in this case alleges that Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC ("PRA") violated North Carolina debt collection law in two ways: (1) PRA sent written notices to class members of its intent to file collection lawsuits and also filed collection lawsuits against class members without proper itemization of the amount of the debt claimed to be owed, and (2) PRA failed to include documentation showing ownership of the debt when it filed lawsuits to collect debt. PRA disputes these allegations.

    By settling this lawsuit, PRA is not admitting that it has done anything wrong.

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  3. What is a class action?

    In a class action, one or more people, called “Class Representatives,” sue on behalf of a group of people who have similar claims. All the people in the group are called “Class Members” and are part of the “Class.” In a class action, one court decides the issues for all class members in one single case, except for those persons who choose to exclude themselves (by “opting out”) from the class. As a result, a large group of people can all get relief in one case without having to hire their own attorneys and without having to go to court.

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  4. Why is there a settlement?

    The Court did not decide the case in favor of either side. Instead, both sides agreed to a settlement. That way, they avoid, among other things, the risks, delays, and costs of further litigation. Class Counsel believe the Settlement is best for the Class Members. Even though the parties have agreed to a proposed Settlement, it is up to the judge in charge of the case to decide whether the Settlement will be approved.

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  5. Who is included in the Settlement?

    The Class Members are:

    1. All people to whom Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC sent a ”Notice of Intent to File Legal Action” in North Carolina between October 1, 2009 and January 11, 2018; AND
    2. All people against whom Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC filed a lawsuit seeking collection of a debt in the North Carolina courts between October 1, 2009 and January 11, 2018.

    The Class does not include persons who meet the categories above if a judgment was entered against them in the lawsuit filed by Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC seeking collection of a debt in the North Carolina courts between October 1, 2009 and January 11, 2018 (unless Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC sent them another Notice of Intent to File Legal Action and/or initiated a separate lawsuit seeking collection of a separate debt against them that has not resulted in a judgment prior to January 11, 2018), if they have filed for or were placed in bankruptcy after October 1, 2009, or if they are deceased.

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  6. What if I am not sure whether I am included in the Settlement?

    If you are not sure whether you are in the Class, or have any other questions about the Settlement, review the FAQs on this website or call the toll-free number, 1-877-760-4638. You may also mail your inquiry to the following address:

    Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC v. Houston
    Settlement Administrator
    P.O. Box 3076
    Portland, OR 97208-3076

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  7. What does the Settlement provide?

    If the Settlement is approved and becomes effective, it will provide benefits to Class Members. PRA will pay $4,000,000 into a settlement fund. PRA has also agreed to dismiss all pending lawsuits against class members, "without prejudice," which means that PRA may choose to file a new lawsuit. The settlement fund will pay attorneys' fees and expenses approved by the Court. Class counsel will request attorneys' fees in the amount of thirty percent of the settlement amount, or $1.2 million. Class Counsel will also request that the settlement fund pay case expenses. PRA has agreed to pay for the administration costs of the Settlement.

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  8. How much will my payment be?

    If the attorneys' fees and expenses are approved by the Court, Class Counsel anticipates that approximately $2,775,000 will be available for distribution to Class Members. Each Class Member will receive at least one payment from the settlement fund. Class counsel estimates that class members who PRA sent a "Notice of Intent to File Legal Action," but who were not sued by PRA, will receive approximately $50. Class members who were sued by PRA will receive approximately $150, and the lawsuits against them will be dismissed without prejudice.

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  9. When will I receive my payment?

    If the Court approves the Settlement, there could be an appeal. Any appeal would delay distributions until the appeal is resolved. If there is no appeal, the initial distribution to Class Members should occur in the second half of 2018. If sufficient numbers of checks from the first distribution remain uncashed, there may also be a final distribution, which would occur in the first half of 2019.

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  10. What am I giving up to stay in the Settlement Class?

    Unless you exclude yourself ("opt out") from the Settlement, you will be part of the Class. By staying in the Class, you give PRA a "release" of any existing claims you may have against it. A release means you cannot sue or be part of any other lawsuit against PRA over any claims that arose through January 11, 2018. Class Members are not releasing any claims that arise after January 11, 2018.

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  11. How can I receive a payment?

    You do not have to do anything to participate in the Settlement. If you are a Class Member, and do not opt out, the Settlement Administrator will mail you a check. If you move, you should notify the Settlement Administrator of your new address. For information on changing your address, click FAQ 22.

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  12. How do I get out of the Settlement?

    If you do not want to be part of the Class, you can take yourself out of the Class by "opting out." To opt out of the Settlement, you must send a letter by mail saying that you want to be excluded from Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC v. Houston. Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number, and your signature. You must mail your opt-out request postmarked no later than April 22, 2018 to:

    Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC v. Houston
    Settlement Administrator
    P.O. Box 3076
    Portland, OR 97208-3076

    You cannot opt out of the Class by telephone, email, or on this website. If you opt out of the Class, you will not receive any money from the Settlement, you cannot object to the Settlement, and neither you nor PRA will be legally bound by anything that happens in the case regarding you.

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  13. If I do not exclude myself, can I sue Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC for the same thing later?

    No. Unless you exclude yourself, you give up the right to sue Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC for the claims that the Settlement resolves. You must exclude yourself from the Class in order to try to maintain your own lawsuit.

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  14. If I exclude myself, can I still get a payment?

    No. You will not get a payment if you exclude yourself from the Settlement.

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  15. Do I have a lawyer in the case?

    Yes. The following are "Class Counsel" who have been appointed by Judge Doughton to represent the Class.

    Class Counsel
    Carlene McNulty
    Jason Pikler
    Emily Turner
    North Carolina Justice Center
    Raleigh, NC
    Travis E. Collum
    Collum & Perry, PLLC
    Mooresville, NC
    Suzanne Begnoche
    Attorney at Law
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Adrian M. Lapas
    Lapas Law Offices, PLLC
    Goldsboro, NC

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  16. How will the Class Counsel be paid?

    Class Counsel will ask the Court to award them attorneys' fees equal to thirty percent of the settlement amounts paid by PRA. If the Court approves this, Class Counsel would receive a fee of $1.2 million out of the total settlement fund of $4 million.

    In addition, Class Counsel will also request reimbursement of litigation-related expenses they have incurred on behalf of the Class.

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  17. How do I tell the Court if I do not like the Settlement?

    By filing an objection, you can tell the Court that you do not agree with the Settlement or some part of it, or with the request for attorneys' fees. You can give reasons why you think the Court should not approve the Settlement or the fee request. The Court will consider your views. To object, you must file your objection with the Court and deliver written objections to Class Counsel and PRA's Counsel, postmarked or hand-delivered no later than April 22, 2018, stating:

    1. Your name, address, and telephone number;
    2. The name of this case and the case number;
    3. A clear statement of each objection; and
    4. An explanation of any specific reasons for each objection, including any legal and factual support, and any evidence you intend to offer in support of the objection.

    Mail or hand deliver the objection to Class Counsel, PRA's Counsel, and the Court so that the objection is postmarked or delivered no later than April 22, 2018, to:

    Court Class Counsel PRA's Counsel
    Houston Class Settlement
    Superior Court
    226 Stockton Street
    Statesville, N.C. 28677
    Carlene McNulty, Esq.
    N.C. Justice Center
    P.O. Box 28068
    Raleigh, N.C. 27611
    Jon Berkelhammer, Esq.
    Ellis & Winters LLP
    P.O. Box 2752
    Greensboro, N.C. 27402

    You may object only if you stay in the Class. Excluding yourself (by "opting out") is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Class. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object because the case does not affect you.

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  18. What is the difference between objecting and asking to be excluded?

    Objecting is telling the Court that you do not like something about the Settlement. You can object to the Settlement only if you do not exclude yourself. Excluding yourself is telling the Court that you do not want to be part of the Settlement. If you exclude yourself, you have no basis to object to the Settlement because it no longer affects you.

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  19. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlement?

    The Final Approval Hearing will be held before Judge Doughton at the following time and place:

    July 20, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.
    Iredell County Courthouse
    226 Stockton Street
    Statesville, NC 28677

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  20. Do I have to attend the Final Approval Hearing?

    No. Class Counsel will answer questions the Court may have. But you are welcome to attend the hearing at your own expense. If you send an objection, you don’t have to come to Court to talk about it. As long as you submitted your written objection on time, to the proper addresses, and it complies with the other requirements described in FAQ 17, the Court will consider it.

    You may also pay your own lawyer to attend, but it’s not necessary. Class Members or their attorneys intending to speak at the hearing must file with the Court and deliver to Class Counsel and PRA’s Counsel a notice stating how much time the Class Member anticipates needing to present the objection; identifying, by name, address, telephone number and detailed summary of testimony, any witnesses the Class Member intends to present; and identifying and providing copies of all exhibits the Class Member intends to offer.

    You cannot speak at the hearing if you do not file a notice or if you have opted out of the Settlement.

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  21. What happens if Class Members don’t cash their checks?

    If checks are not cashed by the Class Members to whom they are sent, those amounts may be re-distributed to those Class Members who have cashed a prior distribution check. Any amounts remaining in the settlement fund after this process may be distributed as directed by the Court for purposes that will benefit the public. None of the money will go back to PRA.

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  22. What do I do if my address has changed?

    To let us know if you have moved or if your address has changed, please mail a letter, including your full name, your old address and your new address, to the following address:

    Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC v. Houston
    Settlement Administrator
    P.O. Box 3076
    Portland, OR 97208-3076

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  23. How do I get more information?

    This website summarizes the proposed Settlement. More details are in the Settlement Agreement. You can get a copy of the Settlement Agreement here. This website will be updated periodically with updates about the Settlement.

    Please do not call the Judge or Clerk of Court; they cannot give you advice about this lawsuit.

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