FTC Data Only Tells Part of the Story on Debt Collection Complaints

Mar 08, 2011, 17:11 ET from ACA International

ACA International Working with Members to Prevent, Reduce and Resolve Consumer Complaints

MINNEAPOLIS, March 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- ACA International, the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals, has reviewed the Federal Trade Commission's 2010 Consumer Sentinel Data Book and offers the following comments from Interim CEO Ted Smith in regard to debt collection.

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"On behalf of its members, ACA International appreciates the work of the FTC and its Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) partners in assembling consumer inquiry and complaint statistics.  We agree on the significant importance of protecting consumers against any business who engages in deceptive, unfair or abusive practices.  These data are important to help organizations better identify areas for improvement.

"Our members are working with regulators, Congress and state leaders to ensure a balanced debt collection system that allows for legitimate debt collection to function and protects consumers. Harassment, threats and other illegal activity are unacceptable and violators must be held accountable

"However, as it relates to debt collection, an industry that attempts billions of consumer contacts each year of which only a small percentage results in complaints, the FTC's data tells an incomplete story.  

  • First, the complaint data is actually comprised of both inquiries and complaints, meaning there is no regard for whether the consumer is contacting the FTC with a question or a legitimate complaint.
  • Second, the FTC does not verify whether each complaint is actually illegal or a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), or whether the complaints were resolved. What rarely gets shared is, that when given the opportunity, debt collectors resolve complaints they receive. According to the Better Business Bureau, debt collectors resolve 85 percent of the complaints received against them -- significantly higher than other industries.
  • Third, the debt collection data in this report lumps together first-party (creditors who own and collect the debt) and third-party debt collection (business contracted with creditors to collect debt on their behalf), which creates an incomplete portrait of consumer complaints.

"ACA International will continue working with its members to better prevent, manage and resolve consumer complaints. In addition, our members have proudly created AskDoctorDebt.com, a consumer-focused resource to answer questions about debt collection and consumer rights. Available in both English and Spanish, visitors are not asked to register, provide any personal information or required to pay to use AskDoctorDebt.com."  

ACA International is the comprehensive, knowledge-based resource for success in the credit and collection industry. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together more than 5,300 members worldwide, including third-party collection agencies, asset buyers, attorneys, creditors and vendor affiliates. ACA International establishes ethical standards, produces a wide variety of products, services and publications, and articulates the value of the credit and collection industry to businesses, policymakers and consumers. For more information about ACA International, visit www.acainternational.org.

CONTACT: Mark Schiffman, PR Director, +1-952-259-2124, schiffman@acainternational.org

SOURCE ACA International