Consumers in January 2012 most frequently complained about debt collectors falsely representing the “character, amount, or status” of debt and the volume of debt collection calls, according to consumer complaint data obtained from the Federal Trade Commission.
In January, consumers logged 11,981 complaints about third party debt collection with the Consumer Sentinel Network, a nationwide complaints clearinghouse operated by the FTC. insideARM obtained the information through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Consumers who complain about third party debt collection through the FTC’s online complaint form or through the agency’s call center have more than 30 different law violation descriptions to choose from when they file their grievance. In January 2012, complaints gathered through these two contact methods accounted for about 76 percent of all reported.
Of the 11,981 complaints that indicated a third party debt collection issue, 27.7 percent cited the violation “Falsely Represents Character, Amount, Status of Debt.” An analysis of some of the comments fields for these complaints revealed that most consumers that chose this option felt that collectors were calling about a debt that was not theirs.
Another 26.3 percent of complaints cited a law violation of “Calls any person repeatedly or continuously.” The third most commonly-cited violation was “Falsely Threatens Suit,” present in 19 percent of complaints, followed very closely by “Fails to Send Written Notice of Debt to Debtor” at 18.6 percent.
Below is a chart sorted by most commonly cited law violation, with the percentage of all complaints citing that violation. Note that the numbers do not add up to the complaint total, nor the percentages to 100 percent, because consumers may choose multiple law violations in one complaint.