ACA International has published a whitepaper that attempts to act like a Snapchat filter by taking the raw complaint data filed by consumers with the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and apply some much-needed context to help put that data in perspective.
This is not the first time that ACA has issued a whitepaper that takes aim at how the BCFP defines a complaint or how the data can paint an incomplete picture without the proper context or perspective.
The number of complaints filed by consumers with the BCFP represent about 0.006% of all individuals who had contact with a debt collection company during the first half of 2018, according to the whitepaper. That figure is “remarkably consistent” compared to other sectors within the financial services industry, the whitepaper concluded.
What consumers are complaining about also should be taken into consideration, the whitepaper argues. For example, the complaint options that deal with the most “negative stereotypes” of the collection industry, “such as harassment or illegal practices, were the categories consumers selected the least and represent an exceptionally small number of responses. These data suggest that consumers are not complaining about harassing or harsh debt collection practices and that the majority of debt collectors are adhering to legal requirements and ethical guidelines.”
The complaint data also suggests a larger problem, according to the whitepaper, and that is “there is a lack of clarity guiding the substantiation of debt and the overall debt collection process.” Attempts to collect on a debt not owed is the most common collection-related complaint that consumers make to the BCFP, which may not be an issue of sketchy collection tactics. In most cases, consumers complain that the debt is not theirs or the debt has already been paid.