Report: End-of-Year Consumer Litigation Filings Decline

1/29/2018 5:00:00 PM

WebRecon report shows monthly consumer litigation filings declined in December 2017, while debt collection complaints to the CFPB increased.

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“The year 2017 ended on a bit of a whimper,” WebRecon CEO Jack Gordon writes in his monthly report. Fair Debt Collection Practices Act filings declined 5.8 percent and filings under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act dropped 9.3 percent, according to the report.

“This is the TCPA’s first year-over-year decline since TCPA lawsuits became more than a novelty in the late 2000’s,” Gordon said in the report.

Between 2015 and 2016 the total number of TCPA litigants increased 32 percent. Additionally, the 9.3 percent change in 2017 is the first actual decrease since 2004. From 2010 forward, these cases were putting up fairly significant numbers.

Filings under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, however, increased 9.9 percent over 2016.

Looking at FCRA numbers provided by WebRecon, filings under the statute have fluctuated since 2001 before increasing steadily starting in 2011. FCRA filings increased from 3,954 in 2016 to 4,346 in 2017.

FDCPA litigation filings increased from 2001 to 2010 (1,323 to 11,075, respectively) before starting to fluctuate in 2011. Last year, FDCPA filings declined to 9,784 from 10,386 in 2016.

TCPA litigation filings started low in 2004 and consistently increased until last year. There were 3,668 filings in 2015, 4,840 in 2016 and 4,392 in 2017, according to WebRecon.

Complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau about debt collection increased 18.5 percent from 2016 to 2017, though numbers are still coming in.

WebRecon continued to report on new complaint data from the Better Business Bureau and Gordon notes that “BBB complaints are up nominally over last year, 1.3 percent.”

The complete year-over-year report on complaints to the CFPB and BBB will be released in February.

Monthly Debt Collection Complaints

WebRecon also released its monthly findings on consumer litigation and complaints for December 2017.

Complaints to the CFPB increased in December 2017, while complaints to the BBB declined.

“BBB will likely add quite a bit of volume over the next few weeks and turn into a positive,” Gordon said.

There were 2,240 BBB complaints in December, a 33.6 percent decline from November, when there were 3,373 complaints, according to the report.

Year-to-date complaints increased 1.3 percent from 47,196 at the end of December 2016 to 47,832 reported at the end of December 2017

Debt collection complaints to the CFPB increased by 8.3 percent from 3,600 in November to 3,900 in December.

Year-to-date, there were 41,100 complaints as of the end of December 2016 compared to 48,692 in December 2017, an 18.5 percent increase.

Similar to October and November, debt collection companies responded to a majority, 95 percent (3,699), of December 2017 CFPB complaints in a timely manner.

Of the complaints filed, 1,529 (39 percent) were about attempts to collect a debt not owed, 997 (26 percent) were about written notification of a debt, and 503 (13 percent) were about communication tactics, according to the report.

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

  • Debt is not yours  (22 percent);
  • Didn’t receive enough information to verify debt (18 percent);
  • Debt was paid (9 percent);
  • Didn’t receive notice of right to dispute (7 percent); and
  • Frequent or repeated calls (7 percent.)

Monthly Consumer Litigation Filings

FDCPA, FCRA and TCPA filings all declined from November to December.

In December, there were 285 TCPA filings compared to 348 in November, an 18.1 percent decrease. Year-to-date TCPA filings declined 9.3 percent from 4,840 at the end of December 2016 to 4,392 at the end of December 2017.

FCRA filings declined 14.3 percent from 349 in November to 299 in December; FDCPA filings decreased by 9 percent from 791 to 720.

Year-to-date FCRA filings increased 9.9 percent from 3,954 at the end of December 2016 to 4,346 at the end of December 2017. Year-to-date FDCPA filings declined 5.8 percent from 10,386 at the end of December 2016 to 9,784 in December 2017, according to the report.

WebRecon also reports that in December there were 1,126 unique plaintiffs (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit.) Of those plaintiffs, about 400 (36 percent) had sued previously under consumer statutes.

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Related Content from ACA International: Report: Complaints, Consumer Litigation Fluctuate as End-of-Year Numbers Still Come In

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