FTC Data On Debt Collection Complaints Only Tells Part Of The Story

Feb 27, 2013, 10:59 ET from ACA International

MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ACA International, the Association of Collection and Credit Professionals, believes the 2012 Federal Trade Commission Sentinel Network report paints an inaccurate portrait of consumer complaints against the third-party debt collection industry.

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"We take consumer complaints seriously and agree on the importance of protecting consumers against businesses that engage in deceptive, unfair or abusive practices," ACA CEO Pat Morris said.  "However, the FTC's report disregards that the rate of growth in the number of complaints seems to be slowing compared to previous years and leaves out important facts on the substance of complaints against the third-party debt collection industry."

Based on industry research analyzing FTC complaint data, a closer look indicates several concerns about its accuracy including the fact that 20 percent of complaints go to "unknown" agencies, there exists a large number of duplicates, and the misidentification of business names.  Within its report the FTC acknowledges that this data is "based on unverified complaints" by consumers.  Further, these complaints are not investigated to determine whether a legal violation, including violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), actually occurred. 

"It's wrong to assume that just because these contacts to the FTC are tallied that the raw data equates to actual bad behavior by third-party debt collectors," Morris said. "Debt collectors want to work with consumers to resolve complaints.  According to the Better Business Bureau, when given a chance debt collectors work closely with consumers to resolve 83 percent of the complaints they received – a number that is significantly higher than other industries." 

Third-party debt collection is essential to the national and state economies, which are built on the foundation that those who provide credit, goods and services expect to be repaid. Recovering these assets helps businesses survive, prevents layoffs, keeps cost down and ensures that credit, goods and services are available to consumers.

The non-profit ACA International Education Foundation created www.askdoctordebt.org as a free resource to help ensure consumers contacted about these debts know their rights and better navigate the often confusing world of personal finance. No registration or sharing of a consumer's personal information is required.         

ACA International (www.acainternational.org) is the comprehensive, knowledge-based resource for success in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together 5,000 members in the United States and abroad, and their more than 300,000 employees, representing third-party collection agencies, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendor affiliates. ACA supports members through state and federal advocacy, training and resources.   

Contact: Mark Schiffman, PR Director
Tel. (952) 259-2124 or schiffman@acainternational.org

SOURCE ACA International