An Unstable Front-Runner…Debt Collection Litigation & CFPB Complaint Statistics, April 2016

Quick analysis: An Unstable Front-Runner…

No, not in politics – in consumer litigation. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act regularly proves to be the most unpredictable of consumer statutes when it comes to tracking monthly filings. After an unusually robust increase of 23.6% in March, it posted a small decrease of 2.7% in April keeping it at around 8% down for the year to date so far.

The other two major consumer statutes we track – the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – both also slowed down, to a lesser extent, from the huge numbers posted in March. FCRA showed a modest April increase of 5.6%, compared to its increase of 20.6% in March. And TCPA decreased by 7.1% in April, compared to a 16.4% increase in March.

FCRA and TCPA are both still showing aggressive growth YTD though, 26.7% and 57.9% respectively.

CFPB complaints against debt collectors took a huge dive last month from 3505 complaints in March to 2816 complaints in April. That is a 19.7% decrease. It is not unusual to expect around 10% more complaints to filter in from the previous month in the month ahead of when we release our stats, but even taking that into consideration this drop is extraordinary.

Having said all of that… CFPB complaint volume is actually closer than ever in 2016 to closing the gap with 2015’s numbers. At 10.7% down, it is lower than March’s 11.2% deficit, February’s 12.5% deficit and January’s 17.6% deficit. If CFPB complaints are trending in any direction, it is toward growth not decline.

Fun Facts:

  • For April 2016, 34% of all consumer litigation plaintiffs had sued at least once before under consumer litigation statutes.
  • About 950 different companies were sued, down 6.5% over the 1012 last month. And 687 different debt collectors were complained about to the CFPB, about 1.1% lower than last month’s 760 (but remember the caveat about more data trickling in).
  • The percentage of suits filed as putative class actions were fairly strong all around, with 16% for FDCPA, 21.6% for TCPA and 11.5% for FCRA.
  • California attorney Todd M. Friedman represented the most consumers for the month with 40, and also the most consumers YTD with 140.
Comparisons: Current Period: Previous Period: Previous Year Comp:
Apr 01, 2016
Apr 30, 2016
Mar 01, 2016
Mar 31, 2016
Apr 01, 2015
Apr 30, 2015
CFPB Complaints  2816 3505 -19.7% 3408 -17.4%
FDCPA lawsuits  977 1004 -2.7% 1075 -9.1%
FCRA lawsuits  356 337 5.6% 270 31.9%
TCPA lawsuits  430 463 -7.1% 321 34.0%
YTD CFPB Complaints  12539 14036 -10.7%
YTD FDCPA lawsuits  3568 3878 -8.0%
YTD FCRA lawsuits  1245 983 26.7%
YTD TCPA lawsuits  1644 1041 57.9%

 

Complaint Statistics:

2816 consumers filed CFPB complaints against debt collectors and about 1402 consumers filed lawsuits under consumer statutes from Apr 01, 2016 to Apr 30, 2016. Here is an approximate breakdown:

  • 2816 CFPB Complaints
  • 977 FDCPA, 156 Class Action (16.0%)
  • 430 TCPA, 93 Class Action (21.6%)
  • 356 FCRA, 41 Class Action (11.5%)

Litigation Summary (scroll down for CFPB data):

  • Of those cases, there were about 1402 unique plaintiffs (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit).
  • Of those plaintiffs, about 474, or (34%), had sued under consumer statutes before.
  • Combined, those plaintiffs have filed about 2033 lawsuits since 2001
  • Actions were filed in 152 different US District Court branches.
  • About 950 different collection firms and creditors were sued.

The top courts where lawsuits were filed:

  • 111 Lawsuits: Illinois Northern District Court – Chicago
  • 57 Lawsuits: California Central District Court – Los Angeles
  • 53 Lawsuits: Florida Middle District Court – Tampa
  • 49 Lawsuits: Nevada District Court – Las Vegas
  • 47 Lawsuits: Pennsylvania Eastern District Court – Philadelphia
  • 41 Lawsuits: Minnesota District Court – Dmn
  • 41 Lawsuits: California Southern District Court – San Diego
  • 39 Lawsuits: California Central District Court – Southern Division – Santa Ana
  • 35 Lawsuits: Georgia Northern District Court – Atlanta
  • 34 Lawsuits: New York Eastern District Court – Brooklyn

The most active consumer attorneys were:

  • Representing 40 Consumers: TODD M FRIEDMAN
  • Representing 35 Consumers: SHARINA TALBOT ROMANO
  • Representing 32 Consumers: DAVID H KRIEGER
  • Representing 31 Consumers: ADRIAN ROBERT BACON
  • Representing 25 Consumers: ELLIOT WAYNE GALE
  • Representing 24 Consumers: CELETHA CHATMAN
  • Representing 23 Consumers: DAVID SCOTT KLAIN
  • Representing 23 Consumers: MICHAEL JACOB WOOD
  • Representing 23 Consumers: NATHAN CHARLES VOLHEIM
  • Representing 22 Consumers: MEGHAN ELISABETH GEORGE

Statistics Year to Date:
5305 total lawsuits for 2016, including:

  • 3568 FDCPA
  • 1245 FCRA
  • 1644 TCPA

Number of Unique Plaintiffs for 2016: 5109 (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit)

The most active consumer attorneys of the year:

  • Representing 140 Consumers: TODD M FRIEDMAN
  • Representing 107 Consumers: NATHAN CHARLES VOLHEIM
  • Representing 106 Consumers: MATTHEW THOMAS BERRY
  • Representing 101 Consumers: DAVID SCOTT KLAIN
  • Representing 100 Consumers: PAUL JONATHAN SIEG
  • Representing 90 Consumers: SERGEI LEMBERG
  • Representing 88 Consumers: DAVID H KRIEGER
  • Representing 84 Consumers: ADRIAN ROBERT BACON
  • Representing 81 Consumers: SHARINA TALBOT ROMANO
  • Representing 75 Consumers: CELETHA CHATMAN

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CFPB Complaint Statistics:

There were 2816 complaints filed against debt collectors from Apr 01, 2016 to Apr 30, 2016.

Total number of debt collectors complained about: 687

The types of debt behind the complaints were:

  • 914 Other (i.e. phone, health club, etc.) (32%)
  • 577 Credit card (20%)
  • 467 I do not know (17%)
  • 465 Medical (17%)
  • 98 Payday loan (3%)
  • 93 Mortgage (3%)
  • 84 Non-federal student loan (3%)
  • 72 Auto (3%)
  • 46 Federal student loan (2%)

Here is a breakdown of complaints:

  • 1208 Cont’d attempts collect debt not owed (43%)
  • 651 Disclosure verification of debt (23%)
  • 406 Communication tactics (14%)
  • 221 False statements or representation (8%)
  • 185 Improper contact or sharing of info (7%)
  • 145 Taking/threatening an illegal action (5%)

The top five subissues were:

  • 672 Debt is not mine (24%)
  • 464 Not given enough info to verify debt (16%)
  • 336 Debt was paid (12%)
  • 255 Frequent or repeated calls (9%)
  • 176 Attempted to collect wrong amount (6%)

The top states complaints were filed from are:

  • 409 Complaints: CA
  • 278 Complaints: FL
  • 257 Complaints: TX
  • 146 Complaints: NY
  • 113 Complaints: OH
  • 105 Complaints: IL
  • 104 Complaints: GA
  • 99 Complaints: PA
  • 89 Complaints: NJ
  • 87 Complaints: VA

The status of the month’s complaints are as follows:

  • 2816 (100%)

This includes 2619 (93%) timely responses to complaints, and 197 (7%) untimely responses.

Of the company responses, consumers accepted 2323 (82%) of them, disputed 258 (9%) of them, and 235 (8%) were N\A.

The top five days for complaints were:

  • 170 Complaints: Mon, 04/11/2016
  • 151 Complaints: Wed, 04/20/2016
  • 150 Complaints: Tue, 04/19/2016
  • 147 Complaints: Thu, 04/07/2016
  • 143 Complaints: Tue, 04/12/2016