Debt Collection Complaint Figures Drop, But Still Remain Most Popular Category

The number of debt collection complaints filed by individuals with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was its lowest monthly total in six months in November, according to data released this afternoon by the agency. The 6,730 complaints filed about debt collections was the third-lowest of any month in 2016 and represented nearly a 30% drop from the high-water mark of 9,643 complaints that were filed in August.

Debt collection complaints still account for the most complaints among any of the 11 categories tracked by the CFPB, representing about 29% of all complaints. Mortgages are the next most-complained about category, followed by credit card services which are a distant third.

screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-4-38-52-pmBarclays, American Express, Wells Fargo, Southwest Credit Systems, and Tenet HealthCare Corp. were the five companies that had the largest increase in the number of debt collection complaints between the same three-month periods in 2015 and 2016, while EOS Holdings, Encore Capital, The CBE Group, ERC, and Transworld Systems were the companies that had the largest decrease in the number of debt collection complaints, according to the CFPB’s data.

Tenet HealthCare and Wells Fargo also made the list of the companies that had the highest rate of untimely responses to complaints filed by individuals.

Washington, D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Florida, and Nevada had the highest number of complaints on a per-capita basis. West Virginia, Arkansas, Iowa, and North Dakota had the lowest number of complaints on a per-capita basis.

Iowa, Georgia, Arkansas, Hawaii, and Texas were the states that had the largest increases in the number of complaints. Delaware, Rhode Island, Idaho, and Alaska were the states with the largest decrease in the complaint rate.

The most popular reason why people are filing complaints with the CFPB continues to be with respect to “continued attempts to collect debt not owed.” That category accounts for 39% of all debt collection complaints filed with the bureau. The CFPB included some anecdotal information about the types of complaints which do not shed much light on the nature of complaints, but might be helpful to some tea-leaf readers.

  • Consumers complained that first-party collectors (creditors collecting on their own debts) forwarded their accounts to third-party collectors for debt that was not owed. Upon dispute with the third-party collector, some consumers report that the debt is sent back to the first-party, only to be later sent to a new third-party collector. Some consumers report that the onus of disproving that the debt is not owed is placed on them r throughout this cycle.
  • Frequently, consumers state that third-party debt collectors attempted to collect medical debt with incorrect balances. Some of these consumers reported they had secured a payment plan with the original party; however, the account was forwarded to collection agencies without regard to prior approved payment plans. Other complaints involved consumers’ insistence that the amount due was erroneous as they believed the amount pursued by collectors was for expenses covered by their medical insurance.


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