Everything you need to know about the PRA Group
If you've been contacted by a debt collector like the PRA Group, you'll know how stressful it can be. There's a lot to think about when you're in debt, particularly if your creditors have brought debt collectors into the mix.
The PRA Group is one of the main debt collection agencies working in the debt industry in the UK, so there's a chance you might have heard of them already, particularly if you've found yourself in debt to a bank or a credit card company in recent years.
NDH Financial is a trusted debt help provider in the finance world. As we employ a licensed insolvency practitioner, we specialise in helping individuals with personal insolvency solutions.
If you're in debt and you've found yourself being contacted by debt collectors, our team is on hand to help, giving you all the information you need to know when dealing with debt collectors.
If you'd like to find out more about our debt solutions, contact us today!
Who are the PRA Group?
The PRA Group is a debt solution specialist company with thousands of employees. They purchase debt from banks and other financial institutions and have built up a huge debt portfolio for themselves over the years.
The company was started in 1996 in the USA, known at the time as Recovery Associates, before the name was changed later on. They have an active place on the Nasdaq stock market under the name PRAAA and work with their clients to help reduce their debt, providing a service for consumers as well as creditors.
The PRA Group now has several subdivisions across the globe, with the UK branch being based in Kent. They're one of the largest buyers of debt accounts (otherwise known as nonperforming loans) and claim to have an ethical code of conduct, as they don't charge interest or fees and state that they don't chase people who can't pay.
What types of debt do PRA Group recover?
The PRA Group purchase existing debt from banks and other financial companies/institutions, usually dealing with consumer debts. They're a major buyer of debt accounts, which means they buy debts from companies at a lower price than what is owed. They then take over the role of chasing the person who owes the debt, which saves the original creditor a lot of time and money.
PRA will usually contact you by phone or post first, although it isn't unheard of for debt collectors to contact you via email or text either. If you are contacted by somebody claiming to be working on behalf of the PRA Group, you need to ensure that they are really who they say they are before dealing with them.
Can the PRA Group send me to jail?
In most cases, debt collectors such as the PRA Group do not hold the power to be able to send you to jail. If you did end up in jail as a result of your debt, it would be due to refusing to pay the below debts and would be out of the PRA Group power.
- Unpaid child maintenance debt
- Unpaid tax - debt owed to HMRC debt
Get in touch today
NDH Financial can help free you from the shackles of your debt.
Call us on 0800 002 9051 or apply below.
Can the PRA Group enter your home?
Debt collection agencies like PRA can make collection calls and enter your home, but only if you allow them entry. There are many ways in which debt collectors can collect their money - one way is to pay a visit to your home. However, you can refuse them entry and, unlike bailiffs (who are appointed by the courts), the PRA Group doesn’t have to provide a warning for visiting your home.
However, debt collectors will usually contact you in advance of a home visit, so the likelihood is that you will have received some communication from them beforehand, usually by mail or phone. It's quite rare for debt collectors to visit your property, but it does occasionally happen. If you ask them to leave, they have to legally oblige the request.
Debt collectors have no legal power to collect debt from you or take legal action, and they are not allowed to take your possessions as payment towards your debt (something only bailiffs can do). This means, if they arrive at your home, you don't have to deal with them if you don't want to. If you have already been in touch with a debt collection company and have advised them that you would like to speak to them via mail instead of in person, they're also not allowed to come to your property.
They also can't act in a threatening or aggressive manner - if you think they have broken these rules when visiting your property, then it may be worth reporting them. Our complaints section below will tell you how you can make a complaint about the PRA Group if needed.
They do, however, have rules and regulations they have to uphold when making their visit:
A debt collector is able to speak to you directly about your debt and discuss a repayment plan with you. They are not able to speak to others about your case. This includes family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. While they can visit you at home, they are not able to approach you in the workplace.
What Should I Do If an Employee of the PRA Group Comes to My Home or Workplace?
The first thing to do is make sure the debt collector is who they say they are. All debt collectors will carry some form of ID, so it is important to check and confirm their identity before letting them in your home.
Once you have determined who they are, it is up to you if you want to let them into your home. It is within your rights to refuse them entry and discuss the matter at the door. If you feel uncomfortable, you have the right to tell them you will discuss the debt over the phone or email.
If you choose to speak to them, make it explicitly clear what you can and cannot afford. If you have evidence to prove this, such as a budget plan, show this to them during their visit.
First and foremost, debt collectors aren't allowed to come to your workplace, so if they do this, they're breaking the law - this is considered to be harassment and is counted as unacceptable behaviour under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act 2008.
Other examples of unacceptable behaviour include attending your property at unsociable hours (usually overnight), contacting friends, coworkers and family about your debt and threatening you with further action, such as the use of bailiffs. If any of these things occur, you should report them or contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.
If a debt collector visits your home, you don't have to let them in or deal with the debt there and then, no matter what they say. They're legally not allowed to lie to you, but that doesn't mean that the truth won't be stretched somewhat.
They should not visit your home if you or someone else in the property is considered to be vulnerable or ill (this includes if you turn ill on their visit), and they must identify themselves and show the proper paperwork - this is something you need to check before letting a debt collector into your home.
Can the PRA Group Take Goods to Clear My Debt?
People sometimes get bailiffs and debt collectors mixed up - bailiffs are allowed to take goods, but debt collectors aren't.
If a debt collector turns up at your property and attempts to take material goods from you, they need to be reported. The only form of payment they can take is in a monetary form - usually by way of a payment plan, although you can pay a lump sum if you wish to.
We might be able to help
Worried about the PRA group entering your home? Contact one of our debt consultants today.
Can debt with PRA Group be written off?
In the UK, it is not possible to have your debt written off per se. Saying this, there is a statute of limitations in place.
The statute of limitations for debt repayment is 6 years. If the debt has not been acknowledged or repaid within this period, lenders, such as the PRA Group, cannot pursue you for payment.
Importantly, this statute of limitations is only if you have not made any payments towards the debt.
For example, if they contact you before the six years have gone by and you have paid even a penny towards the debt, they are entitled to chase you for the remaining debt and your debt will not be statute-barred.
The only guaranteed way to get your debt written off is by entering into a legally binding debt solution scheme, such as an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, bankruptcy or Debt Relief Order.
What is an Individual Voluntary Arrangement?
An Individual Voluntary Arrangement or IVA enables you to put all your debts into one monthly affordable payment. The duration of the IVA depends on your circumstances; however, it is usually five years. If, after the end of the five years, you still have outstanding payments, the debt will be written off and lenders like PRA Group are unable to contact you requesting payments.
Some debts cannot be included in an IVA, such as child maintenance arrears, court fines, or secured debts, and you would still be required to make payments towards these.
Get in touch - we may be able to help
If you are interested in applying for an IVA or have been approached by the PRA Group after you have taken out an IVA, our debt consultants are able to provide you with the information you need.
What Powers Do the PRA Group Have?
Before dealing with a debt collection agency, it's important to know what they can and can't do - as previously stated, they don't really have any legal powers as such, but there are still some controls that an organisation like the PRA Group has.
Whilst there are things they can do in terms of your debt, they're quite limited, and you don't have to clear your debt with a debt collection agency if you don't want to - instead, you could choose another payment option, such as taking out an IVA with NDH Financial. Essentially, debt collectors don't have any additional powers over your original creditors - they also don't have the powers that a court-ordered bailiff has.
As stated above, debt collectors can attend your property without prior notice (unless they use unacceptable behaviour such as turning up at night time), but you don't have to let them in or deal with them and they have to leave if you ask them to.
The debt collector may ask for payment; however, you don't have to pay them and can decide to pay off your debt elsewhere instead, such as via an IVA. If you do decide to pay a debt collector, they have to show proof of their identity and it’s important that you get a receipt as proof of payment.
Debt collectors aren't allowed to lie or mislead you, and they are also subject to the rules set out by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), who regulate them. They can't speak to anyone else about your debt without your permission or chase them up for it, and they can't harass you or add excessive interest charges to your debt.
Whilst being contacted by debt collectors might seem scary at first, they have very little power over you in terms of collecting payment for your debts, so this information should hopefully help to put your mind at ease.
For more financial advice about debt, contact NDH Financial and we'll see if we can help!
What happens if PRA Group wants to take you to court?
Debt collectors like the PRA Group cannot just take you to court. They must first justify their reason for doing so.
Before initiating court action, the PRA Group will have to give you sufficient warning and allow you an adequate length of time to make your repayments.
They will first issue a letter, known as a default notice, which will alert you that the debt collector has been instructed to deal with your account and seek payment from you.
Once the debt collectors are ready to take you to court, they will issue you with a claim form. This form is to notify you that court action will be taking place. The letter should include:
- The amount of debt you owe
- Information about the missed payments
- Information about the agreed payment plan (if one was made)
If the PRA Group takes you to court and no agreement is made or you fail to attend court, they will issue a County Court Judgement. This is a court-mandated order outlining a payment plan - whereby you repay your debt in full or in instalments.
You have 14 days in which to respond before further action is taken.
If you are unable to make the court-mandated payments, you can request the payment plan be reviewed. In order to do this, you will have to give information regarding your financial circumstances.
You can also dispute it if there is a mistake with the amount they claim you owe.
Can NDH help?
However, before it comes to this, if you have received either a default notice or a claims form and would like some assistance, contact a member of our team today. Alternatively, find out more about how Individual Voluntary Arrangements can help you come debt-free* today.
What to do if you receive a default notice?
If you have received a default notice, it is important to address it as soon as possible.
You can contact your creditor to discuss your situation. Be frank and honest about your situation during this discussion and see if they can work with you to come up with a repayment plan you can afford.
Contact us today
If you are truly struggling to make ends meet and require more than guidance and support, contact us today. Our debt consultants have experience dealing with a range of financial situations, including handling debt collectors.
Get in touch with NDH Financial today for a free consultation about your debts.
Call us on 0800 002 9051 or apply below.
How do you make a complaint about the PRA Group?
If you feel you have been threatened or harassed by the PRA Group, it is within your rights to make a formal complaint. When making a complaint, it is important to provide as much information as possible. This includes your reference number which can be found on your correspondence with the PRA Group, so they can find your file as well as any evidence you may have of misconduct.
You can make a complaint via the following methods:
Using the form on their website
Contact them by phone or post
Make sure you have a copy of the complaint, including the date you sent the complaint. As the PRA Group is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, this means if you do not hear back from them or you are unhappy with how they have dealt with your complaint, you can report them to the Financial Ombudsman Service. You can find contact details for the Financial Ombudsman here.
What will the Financial Ombudsman Service do with your complaint?
Start the process
If you have filed a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, they are duty-bound to begin an investigation. This includes gathering evidence so they have proof that the PRA Group acted outside of the Consumer Credit Act.
During the process, the Financial Ombudsman Service may contact you to ask you questions in regard to the investigation. The time of the investigation will vary depending on the severity of the complaint, but you should hear back from them within ten working days. You will also be assigned a case handler who will be your point of contact during the process.
The outcome of your complaint
Once the Financial Ombudsman Service has made their decision, they will confirm with you how your case will proceed. If the ombudsman votes in your favour, they will contact the PRA Group and get them to rectify the situation. This may include compensation, which can go towards your debt repayments.
Is the PRA Group able to take your vehicle?
Unlike bailiffs, it is very hard for the PRA Group to be able to seize your assets on unsecured debts where there is no collateral which includes your vehicle.
The PRA Group can only seize your car in the following circumstances:
- The debt specifically relates to the car you have purchased - for example, you have defaulted on your car loan repayments
- There is a County Court Judgement out against you
What happens if I am dealing with a personal situation?
Everyone has their own unique situation. From having to deal with mental health issues to grieving the loss of a loved one. You may find dealing with the PRA Group or creditors a traumatic experience.
These situations can implicate your capabilities to deal with your debts. In this situation, the best thing you can do is contact the PRA Group directly. (You can do this via email if making the call is too intimidating). They should take this into consideration and provide you with additional support.
Can an Individual Voluntary Arrangement help me deal with the PRA Group?
If you are unable to make the payments as requested by the PRA Group, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) may help you deal with them.
Firstly, an IVA will enable you to consolidate all your debts into one monthly affordable payment. Not only will this help you deal with one debt but all of your debts. That one payment will then be distributed by your insolvency practitioner to all your creditors on your behalf. This means won’t have to deal with the PRA Group directly.
Get in touch with NDH
If you are interested in applying for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, book a no obligation consultation with one of our debt consultants today.
How NDH Financial can help you with your debts
If you are worried about having to deal with the PRA Group or other debt collection agencies, our debt consultants can talk you through your debt repayment options.
We specialise in Individual Voluntary Arrangements and, depending on your circumstance, will be able to determine the best way in which to tackle your debts.
More information about IVAs can be found on our IVA Learning Hub, but there are several other debt solutions available if you don't think an IVA is right for you.
*Once the IVA is completed, all outstanding debts that are included are written off. There are some unsecured debts that will be excluded, such as court fines, child maintenance arrears and Student Loans, and you will need to make separate payments to these. As the IVA will only cover unsecured debts, you will need to continue making payments to secured creditors both during and after the IVA.
Do You Have Any More Questions?
Our IVA Learning Hub Can Help
We know you might have questions and that’s fine.
We can answer most of those on our call.
But we’ve also built our learning hub so that you can learn more about an IVA and see if one is right for you.
Click below to check it out.