Debt Collection Statistics

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act stats of abusive debt collection practices and violations.

One out of every ten Americans came out of the 2009 financial crisis with one or more debts in collections according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Still, as 30 million Americans — struggle to pay down their debt; they’re being bombarded with calls, letters and even threats from debt collectors to pay- up. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), harassing consumers to collect a debt is illegal, as it violates the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Director of CFPB Richard Cordray says, “It doesn’t matter who is collecting the debt — unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices are illegal.” While some collection firms follow the rules laid down by the FTC, others still use collection tactics to coerce consumers into paying.

Here are the stats…

General debt collection statistics

  • The CFPB’s largest source of complaint per month — debt collection
  • Number of complaints consumers filed against debt collectors in 2013 — 200,000
  • Number of American adults with debt in collection or subject to collection in 2013 —approx. 30 million
  • Average amount of debt American adults have in collections or subject to the collections process — approx. $1,400
  • Types of debt majority of consumers carry — medical, mortgages and auto loans
  • Collection agencies’ number one customer — hospitals and other medical and healthcare providers

Types of complaints received by the CFPB

The CFPB receives numerous complaints every day.

Most common type of debt collection complaint received — reports that debt collectors continue to collect a debt the consumer say they do not owe

  • 65% of complaints were about debt collectors continued attempts to collect a debt the consumer reports is not their debt.
  • 27% of complaints were from consumers who’ve already paid the debt.
  • 5% of the complaints were from consumers who’ve fallen victim to identity theft.
  • 4% of the complaints were from persons who say the debt had been discharged in bankruptcy.

Number of debt collection complaints the CFPB has handled since it began accepting complaints at the end of 2013 — approx. 30,300

  • Number of these complaints the CFPB has sent to the collection companies for their review and a response — 11,000
  • Number of companies that have already responded — 9,000
  • Total number of debt collection complaints the FTC received in 2013 — 204,464
  • Total number of debt collection complaints the FTC received in 2012 — 202,616

Complaints submitted through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

Number of grievances consumers submitted to the FTC in 2013 and the reason for their complaint:

  • Harassment by repeated and continuous calls — 23,582
  • Harassment by using obscene, profane, or abusive language — 8,652
  • Number of consumers who complained that debt collectors called them before 8:00 a.m., after 9:00 p.m., or at other times that the collectors knew or should have known was inconvenient to them — 4,656
  • Number of consumers who complained that debt collectors used or threatened to use violence if they failed to pay — 2,502

In 2013, number of consumers who complained that debt collectors either led them into believing that they owed a debt that they didn’t owe, that they owed more than they actually owe, or sought to collect a debt that has already been discharged in bankruptcy — 23,068

  • Number of complaints citing that collectors demanded unauthorized collection fees, interest and late fees and court costs — 5,605
  • Number of complaints that collectors failed to contact the client with a written notice as required by the CFPB —17,502
  • Number of complaints that collectors falsely threatened the consumer with a lawsuit or some other action that they could not or did not intend to take if the consumer fails to pay — 20,627
  • Number of complaints that collectors falsely threatened to arrest the consumer or seize their property for refusal of payment — 16,882
  • Number of complaints that the collector failed to identify themselves as a debt collector or failed to provide the required “mini-Miranda” warning — 11,941
  • Number of complaints that collectors repeatedly called a third party such as an employer, relative, children, neighbor, and friend to obtain information about their location — 10,026
  • Number of complaints that debt collectors illegally disclosed their debt to a third party — 8,571
  • Number of complaints that the debt collector called the consumer at work without their permission — 9,761
  • Number of complaints that collectors failed to verify a debt that’s being disputed — 6,361
  • Number of complaints that collectors continue to ignore their request to “cease communication” notices and attempts to collect the debt — 2,906

Struggling with unlawful or abusive collections?

Despite reports the economy is on the upswing, some consumers are still hanging by a string, and struggling to recover. If you feel you’re being harassed by debt collectors in any way, don’t be shy about filing a complaint. The CFPB has added five action letter templates to its complaint database to help you correspond with your creditors.

And if you’re facing abuse or threats, fight back today! Call Debt.com or complete the form to request help to end collector harassment now.

All statistics gathered from: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201403_cfpb_fair-debt-collection-practices-act.pdf