Pile of money

In a major victory for millions of people who are aggressively and embarrassingly harassed by viper-like debt collectors, a Missouri panel of jurors ordered a debt collection agency to pay almost $83 million to a woman from Kansas City, whom it unlawfully harassed to pay $1,000 in credit card debt.

The woman did not even owe the $1,000; therefore, Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC was found in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which triggered a damage award of $250,000. As for the significantly larger amount of damages, these were awarded for the company's malicious prosecution of the Missouri woman, named Maria Guadalupe Mejia. Mejia received an award of punitive damages in the total amount of $82,990,000.

Debt Collector Does Not Agree with Decision

Anyone who has been pursued by malicious debt collectors before will probably enjoy how upset the owner of Portfolio Recovery Associates, PRA Group, sounds in the following statement:

"This outlandish verdict defies all common sense. We hope and expect the judge will set aside this inappropriate award, and we plan to file motions to make that request formally in the near term. Any fair reading of the facts of this case makes plain that a verdict of this size is not justice by any means, and cannot stand."

Portfolio Recovery Associates LLC is one of the biggest debt buyers in the United States. If you have been pursued for unpaid credit card debt either appropriately or inappropriately, you may have been pursued by them.

In February 2013, Portfolio Recovery Associates sued Ms. Mejia for the collection of a $1,000 credit card debt. However, she never owed that debt; the actual person who owed the debt was a man with a similar name.

In a formally written statement, Ms. Mejia stated that the debt collector's attempts to extract the $1,000 from her were frightening. "The lawsuit terrified me," Ms. Mejia said.

Are You Being Harassed by Debt Collectors?

Debt collection agencies are frighteningly powerful organizations with expensive attorneys on their sides, and it is not uncommon for them to bully low-income consumers unlawfully. This is why the federal government created the Bureau of Consumer Protection to help protect consumers from abuse.

If you are being harassed by a debt collector, always request a written validation of the debt they are trying to pursue. You may also want to consider discussing your situation with a consumer law attorney to evaluate your rights in the situation.