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Report Assesses State of Third-Party Collection Industry

Only 6% of collection agencies report that it is some degree of easier to get in touch with consumers than it was five years ago, according to a report released yesterday by TransUnion and Aite Group.

Four percent of participants in the survey said it was “far less difficult” to contact consumers and 12% said it was “somewhat less difficult.” On the flip side, 32% of participants said it was “far more difficult” to contact consumers and 26% said it was “somewhat more difficult.”

TransUnion also reported that the number of third-party collection agencies has declined by about 20% in the past decade, to about 8,500 currently.

“Third-party collections plays a critical role in the health of the American economy,” said Peter Ghiselli, vice president of third-party collections at TransUnion, in a statement. “Not only does the collections industry provide gainful employment for thousands of professionals, it keeps the cost of credit low for consumers that seek it. For the industry to thrive once again, modernization must take place. Yet this can only happen if both the industry and government officials work side-by-side to create an environment that fosters healthy discourse between collectors and consumers.”

Perhaps not a surprise to anyone, among collection agencies of different sizes, the only category that has seen an increase in the number of agencies between 2012 and 2016 were agencies that had at least 250 employees. The number of agencies with fewer than 250 employees all decreased during the same timeframe.

Among the different types of communication channels available to the industry today, collection agencies are most likely to start deploying text messaging, followed by using social media, email, and ringless voicemail drops, according to the report.

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