Be part of the solution.

Help AARP Foundation win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50 and over.

Charity Rating

AARP Foundation earns high rating for accountability from a leading charity evaluator. Read

Connect with the


AARP Foundation Litigation:


Toll-free Nationwide:




Toll-free TTY:



AARP Foundation Tax ID


Hrivnak v. NCO Portfolio Management

Debt Collectors Must Face Consequences of Abusive Debt Collection



A court agreed with AARP’s brief that collectors seeking judgments on time-barred debts cannot manipulate the legal process to avoid the consequences.


The collection industry is booming. One in ten people face collection for old, sometimes time-barred debts, and for debts they don’t owe. Because few people show up at court  to contest collection lawsuits (often because they are not notified), many collectors file cases they are not actually prepared to litigate because they are based on insufficient or no evidence to support the claims.  Those lawsuits are based on the collectors’ hopes that an overburdened judicial system will simply grant them default judgments.

For over a decade consumer complaints about abusive debt collection practices have exceeded complaints about any other industry. Federal and state laws protect consumers from unfair and deceptive debt collection practices, but debt collection abuses have been increasing significantly over the years.

NCO Portfolio Management, which brags that it is ranked among the top ten debt purchasers, sued Christopher Hrivnak, an alleged debtor, on a stale debt in state court in Ohio. Hrivnak filed a class action counterclaim, alleging violations of the federal Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). NCO then dismissed its debt collection lawsuit, removed the counterclaims to federal district court, and offered to settle the case with Hrivnak. The offer did not provide for injunctive relief and did not compensate members of the class. NCO Portfolio sought to dismiss the entire case arguing that the settlement offer made the entire case moot.

AARP Foundation Litigation attorneys filed AARP’s friend-of-the-court brief detailing industry abuses, the vulnerability of older and low income people, and citing numerous studies documenting debt buyers’ use of courts to extract money from alleged debtors despite inadequate evidence. If the debt collectors are able to obtain the dismissal of class claims by buying off the named plaintiffs but not changing their practices, consumers would never be able to challenge the illegal practices of debt collectors.

An appeals court denied NCO’s motion to dismiss the case as moot, finding that NCO’s settlement offer did not provide full relief. “To moot a case or controversy between opposing parties, an offer of judgment must give the plaintiff everything he has asked for as an individual…An offer limited to the relief the defendant believes is appropriate does not suffice,” ruled the court (emphasis in original). Because the company did not offer everything Hrivnak requested, Hrivnak’s class action challenge to the abusive debt collection practices can proceed in court.
What’s at Stake

Debt collection lawsuits have increased across the country, corresponding to the growth of the debt buyer industry, which purchases huge portfolios of essentially worthless and largely invalid debt for pennies on the dollar, then seeks to collects on the debt at full value. Older people are often coerced into paying debts--even those they don’t owe—because they believe they will go to jail or lose their homes if they don’t pay.

Case Status

Hrivnak v. NCO Portfolio Management
was decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Search Legal Advocacy

Legal Cases

Find cases in which AFL has advocated in courts nationwide for the rights of older persons, and filed AARP’s amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs that help courts decide precedent-setting cases. The cases within the drop-down categories below are in alphabetical order for ease of searching.

Strengthening Law and Policy through
Legal Advocacy

Our legal advocacy initiatives  - conducted by AARP Foundation Litigation (AFL) - reflect nearly 20 years of work in federal and state courts across the country. Through our efforts, we support the Foundation’s four impact areas: Tackling Senior Hunger, Paving the Way to Stable Income, assuring the adequacy and availability of Safe and Afffordable Housing and Reconnecting People to Families and Communities, and ensure that those 50 and older have a voice in the laws and policies that affect their daily lives.