November Debt Collection Complaints Decline


12/21/2016 2:26 PM

WebRecon reports that while monthly declines continue, the number of complaints this year is getting closer to last year’s results and could surpass 2015.

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Monthly debt collection complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have declined for the past several months, but the number at the end of 2016 could surpass 2015’s results, according to the latest Debt Collection Litigation and CFPB Complaints Statistics report from WebRecon and its CEO Jack Gordon.

“There is good reason to believe 2016 complaints will overtake 2015’s numbers after being behind all year long,” Gordon said. “For most of 2016, CFPB complaints were trailing 6-10 percent behind 2015 numbers. However, in just the last three months complaints have quickly closed the gap (September 3.9 percent, October, 2.2 percent, November 1.1 percent.)”

If that momentum continues, Gordon said the complaint numbers will top 2015.

The complaints, however, did decline on a monthly and year-to-date basis.

The CFPB received 3,027 debt collection complaints in November, down 13.8 percent from a revised 3,512 complaints in October, according to the report. The numbers can fluctuate as more complaints come in to the CFPB.

Year-to-date debt collection complaints declined slightly by 1.1 percent from 37,280 in November 2015 to 36,871 last month, according to the report.

There were 2,659 complaints in November 2015, compared to 3,027 in November 2016, a 13.8 percent increase.

Similar to September and October, debt collection companies responded to a majority, 90 percent (2,733), of November 2016 complaints in a timely manner.

The most common type of debt behind the complaints reported in November continues to be in the “other” category for expenses such as phone bills or health club memberships, with 1,000 complaints (33 percent) in that category.

Of the complaints filed, 1,307 (43 percent) were about continued attempts to collect a debt not owed, 874 were about disclosure verification of debt (29 percent) and 338 were about communications tactics (11 percent).

The top five sub-issues in debt collection complaints were:

  • Debt is not mine (25 percent)
  • Not given enough time to verify debt (22 percent)
  • Debt was paid (11 percent)
  • Frequent or repeated calls (6 percent)
  • Debt resulted from identity theft (5 percent)

ACA International has continuously urged the CFPB to takes steps to address flaws in its consumer complaint handling process, including ensuring that the complaint information it shares in the consumer complaint database is based on meaningful, normalized data. In the white paper Methodological and Analytical Limitations of the CFPB Consumer Complaint Database, ACA showed that the flaws in the database—namely bias in the data collection process and incorrect categorization of complaints by industry—render the data near useless for policymaking or developing best practices.

Follow ACA on Twitter @ACAIntl and @acacollector or Facebook for news and event updates. ACA’s LinkedIn Group includes news updates, member discussions, event promotions, jobs and more. Visit the group page and request to join today.

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