Decline in CFPB Complaints Reflects Industry’s Work to Help Consumers


WebRecon report shows complaints to the CFPB are down in 2020 as the accounts receivable management industry continues to work with consumers on accounts during the pandemic.

10/26/2020 11:00

Complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about debt collection are declining, according to fall statistics tracked by WebRecon LLC in its monthly consumer litigation and complaints report.

While the numbers tend to fluctuate, complaints to the CFPB comparing the previous month and the previous year declined in August and September.

Comparing September 2019, when there were 7,966 complaints, to September 2020, when there were 4,770 complaints, they declined 40.1%, according to the WebRecon report.

Year-to-date, comparing Jan. 1-Sept. 30, 2019, and Jan. 1-Sept. 30, 2020, complaints declined 3.9%—from 49,179 to 47,252, respectively.

The CFPB’s own data released this summer shows that complaints and consumer concerns about debt collection continue to decline. In July, the CFPB released a report tracking consumers’ experiences with financial products and services, especially related to the COVID-19 pandemic, ACA International previously reported.

The bulletin shows that mortgage (19%), credit card (18%), and credit or consumer reporting (18%) complaints top the list of complaints the bureau has received that mention coronavirus keywords. This is followed by checking or savings account complaints (12%) and debt collection (11%.)

Throughout the pandemic, debt collectors have continued to help consumers manage their payments and provide solutions that fit with their financial situation. Calls from consumers to the agencies were on the rise in recent months. Consumers sought help managing their finances and exploring hardship options because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Timely responses from financial services companies continue to come in at strong rate of 97%.

Credit card debt continues to be the top form of debt causing complaints, according to the September WebRecon report, followed by other debt or tax debt in previous months.

However, according to WalletHub’s Credit Card Debt Study released in September, consumers are expected to have a slight decline in credit card debt by the end of the year for the first time since the end of the Great Recession in 2009.

In the second quarter, April through June, consumers paid down $58 billion in credit card debt. In the first quarter, consumers paid down $60 billion in credit card debt.

“Although first quarter paydowns are normal, Q2 2020 marks the first time in more than 30 years that credit card debt has dropped from April through June,” WalletHub reports.

WebRecon Consumer Litigation Trends

WebRecon also tracks monthly and yearly consumer litigation filings in its report.

“Notable last month … [the] FDCPA had a rare mini-surge of activity [and the] TCPA had an uncommonly large tumble,” CEO Jack Gordon said in the report.  “The clear winner in consumer litigation continues to be the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which has been the most consistently increasingly used consumer statute of the last couple of years.”

Looking at the monthly numbers, TCPA filings declined 23.6% from 225 in August to 172 in September, according to the report.

FDCPA cases increased 8.5% percent from 532 in August to 577 in September, and FCRA cases increased 9.3% from 419 in August to 458 in September.

Year-to-Date Filings

The FDCPA declined 9.8% from 640 filings in August 2019 to 577 in September 2020; the FCRA increased 5.5% from 434 in September 2019 to 458 in September 2020; and the TCPA declined 27.7% from 238 in September 2019 to 172 in September 2020.

Overall, there were 3,742 filings for the FCRA from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2019, compared to 3,883 from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2020—a 3.8.% increase, according to the report.

TCPA filings increased 5.7% comparing data from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2019, to that same timeframe this year. There were 2,594 and 2,543 filings under the TCPA, respectively.

The 15.5% decrease in FDCPA filings comparing Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2019, to that time this year is 6,383 and 5,392, respectivel

Read more findings in the complete WebRecon report here.

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