PRA Group, Inc. or PRA, is a company acquiring and collecting nonperforming loans based in Norfolk, Virginia. PRA was listed in the Federal Trade Commission’s Report on the Debt Buying Industry (dated January 2013) as one of the largest debt buyers in the US. PRA was among the top five debt buyers in the FTC Report. According to SEC filings, PRA’s revenue for 2017 was $813 million.
Hundreds of companies are debt buyers, but PRA Group is among the few that are publicly traded corporations. In 2014, the company was referred to as a “major player in the debt-collection industry”. PRA was also listed as one of the largest debt buyer in Human Rights Watch’s report ” Rubber Stamp Justice”, dated February 2016; which questioned the collection practices of debt buyers.
PRA Group began as Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC in March 1996 by co-founders CEO and President Kevin Stevenson and Steve Fredrickson. They started with four people out of a small office in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The company’s debt purchasing activities began a few months after the company was formed, in May 1996.
In 2000, the company reported that it had purchased US$1,000,000,000 of debt during the year, ranking (tying) in 10th place among top debt buyers. By 2010, the company was noted as “the sixth-largest debt buyer in the U.S.”
PRA Group’s initial public offering was in 2002 and was backed by William Blair & Company and Piper Jaffray. The company is listed on the NASDAQ exchange and traded under the symbol PRAA.
PRA’s SEC filings for 2015 state that PRA has large international operations, due to its acquisitions of Aktiv Kapital, a Norway-based debt buyer and lender in Europe and Canada.
The name of the company when formed was Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC. On an unknown date, the company’s name changed to Portfolio Recovery Associates, Inc. Then in October 2014, the name changed to PRA Group, Inc. The PRA Group name and the design of its corporate logo were trademarked in 2014.
In 2014, the Attorney General of New York obtained a settlement against PRA Group “for repeatedly bringing improper debt collection actions against New York consumers.” The case involved “uncontested default judgments” levied against defendants who failed to respond to suits brought by PRA against them. The settlement required abandonment of claims against debtors (amounting to millions of dollars), changes in collection practices, and a civil fine of US$300,000. In September, 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -the regulator of the debt buying industry, made public a Consent Order against PRA, which was detailed in PRA’s 2015 Annual Report to the SEC. As part of the Consent Order, PRA received a substantial fine and penalty, and must make restitution to some of its customer due to a variety of questionable debt collection practices.
Adverse Regulatory Actions
In September 2015, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) ordered Portfolio Recovery to pay $19 million in consumer refunds and an $8 million penalty, and stop collecting on over $3 million worth of debts. Portfolio is also barred from reselling debts to third parties in the future.
The CFPB found that Portfolio Recovery Associates threatened and deceived consumers to collect on debts they should have known were inaccurate or had other problems, stated incorrect balances, interest rates, and payment due dates in attempting to collect debts from consumers. Failed to provide documention on debts. Filed court cases they knew they had no documentation for in hopes a consumer would default on their court date giving portfolio a default judgement. Portfolio filed cases on debts that they knew were outside the statute of limitations. Threatened that they were going to sue when an attorney had not even reviewed the case and made misrepresentations among other things.
PRA’s SEC filings for the calendar year 2015, page 92 and elsewhere, detail that the Internal Revenue Service conducted an audit of PRA of tax years 2005 to 2012. The IRS is currently in litigation with PRA, and there is a tax claim of at least $197 million against PRA that is now pending in U.S Tax Court. This matter is now set for trial in September, 2016.
PRA’s business model is based on purchasing pools of consumer debt from banks and other creditors, at a discount to the full amount owed. The company then tries to recover two to three times the purchase price over a period of years.
The company applies predictive computational models when considering acquisition of a debt portfolio to help assess the potential return on investment, as well as on its existing portfolio to conduct ongoing review of its collection strategy.
PRA was co-founded by CEO and President Kevin Stevenson and Steve Fredrickson in 1996. Corporate governance is as follows:
- President and Chief Executive Officer — Kevin Stevenson
- Chief Information Office – Deborah Cassidy
- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer – Pete Graham
- Executive Vice President, Americas – Chris Graves
- Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Assistant Secretary – Chris Lagow
- Senior Vice President, Corporate Development – P. Kent McCammon
- Chief Data and Analytics Officer – Pete Palermo
- Executive Vice President, Europe and Corporate Development – Steve Roberts
- President, PRA Group Europe — Martin Sjölund
- Chief Compliance Officers – Laura White
Board of directors
The executive chairman of the board of directors is Steven Fredrickson.
Board of Directors is as follows:
- Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors —Steven Fredrickson (BA, University of Denver; MBA, University of Illinois)
- Kevin Stevenson
- Vikram Atal
- Danielle Brown
- Marjorie Connelly
- John Fain
- Penelope Kyle
- James Nussle
- Geir Olsen
- Scott Tabakin
- Lance Weaver
The company’s headquarters are located in Norfolk, Virginia.
In 2001, the main facility of the company was in the Riverside Commerce Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which employed 380 “collectors/supervisors”.
In 2000, the company established a call center in Hutchinson, Kansas. By late 2001, this facility employed 75.
The overall employment figure for 2002 was 590, across all sites and divisions.
Also by 2002, about 50% of the company’s debt portfolio (the spectrum of debts purchased) had come from major credit card issuers Visa, MasterCard and Discover. The overall portfolio had a “face value” (the amount owed) of US$4,170,000,000 across 1.5 million individual accounts.
As shown in its 2015 SEC filings, for the year ending December 31, 2015, PRA had revenues of $942 million, and $880 million in 2014.
As shown in the SEC filings by PRA for the calendar year 2015, PRA has substantial international operations from its acquiring Aktiv Kapital of Norway.
PRA Group’s subsidiaries include Portfolio Recovery Associates, LLC, which purchases and collects debt; PRA Receivables Management, LLC, which acquires and services bankrupt and insolvent accounts; PRA Location Services, which helps auto lenders and insurance companies recover missing collateral; and Claims Compensation Bureau (CCB), which monitors and files class action claims on behalf of institutional investors and corporate clients.
In April 2010, PRA secured a controlling interest in the company Claims Compensation Bureau, which specialized in “recovering funds and processing payments owed under class-action settlements”.
- ^http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/PRAA/715398218x0x744826/259AE99A-46DA-4623-BD1D-6909EFA24470/PRA_2013AR_29315_2_.pdf annual report
- ^“Form 10-K”. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. 27 February 2018.
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- ^“Uspto Issues Trademark: Pra Group”. US Fed News Service. 14 November 2014. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015 – via Highbeam Research.
- ^ Jump up to:ab c “A.G. Schneiderman Announces Settlements with Two Major Consumer Debt Buyers for Unlawful Debt Collection Actions for Years, Portfolio Recovery Associates and Sherman Financial Group Obtained Judgments against New York Consumers Based upon Untimely Claims Schneiderman: Debt Collectors Must Abide by Same Rules as the Rest of Us”(Press release). New York Attorney General. 8 May 2014. Archived from the original on 29 March 2015 – via Highbeam Research.
- ^http://blog.credit.com/2015/09/2-of-americas-largest-debt-collectors-will-refund-60-million-to-consumers-125132/ 2 of America’s Largest Debt Collectors Will Refund $60 Million to Consumers
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- ^“ACA International: “PRA Group and Encore Capital Group Reach Settlement with CFPB.” September 9, 2015″.