Debt Collection Litigation & CFPB Complaint Statistics, December 2014 and Year in Review

Quick analysis: Consumer litigation, particularly TCPA, has come roaring back after an anemic December 2014.

CFPB complaints look flat from November to December, but the December numbers are still likely to increase by a couple hundred complaints as they continue to trickle in.

In December, there were 172 TCPA lawsuits (after an inexplicable November dip to 94), down from a 2014 monthly average of 203. FDCPA rebounded to 836 from a 2014 monthly average of 807, and FCRA hit 203, up from it’s 2014 monthly average of 193.

Class actions are all over the place this month, with FDCPA normal at 9.2%, FCRA low at 4.9% and TCPA high at 12.8% of all litigation representing a class.

Repeat filers represented about 31% of all December litigation.

Year in Review 

Overall, lawsuits are down, thanks to FDCPA dropping 590 lawsuits from 2013’s total. This marks the 4th year in a row that FDCPA has declined, and it is the first year since 2009 that it is below 10,000. Both FCRA and TCPA are up, making up for most of the shortfall.

As predicted earlier in the year, TCPA surpassed FCRA in the number of 2014 filings. But due to the November plummet, it was a squeaker.

Overall, the 14,383 lawsuits in 2014 came in just below the 2013 total of 14,470. It is likely that this small gap will tighten as more litigation is made public in the weeks ahead, but probably not enough to overtake the lead.

For the full year 2014, here is how things have settled for litigation:

For CFPB complaints, it is impossible to draw any relevant comparison as 2013 was the first year debt collection complaints were collected, and it was a partial year. For the record, there were 11,080 complaints against debt collectors in 2013 and 39,185 in 2014 (likely to go up by a couple of hundred as CFPB complaints are still being released to the public).

Comparisons: Current Period: Previous Period: Previous Year Comp:
Dec 01 – 31, 2014 Nov 01 – 30, 2014 Dec 01 – 31, 2013
CFPB Complaints  2843 2842 0.0% 2436 16.7%
FDCPA lawsuits  836 736 13.6% 768 8.9%
FCRA lawsuits  203 181 12.2% 221 -8.1%
TCPA lawsuits  172 94 83.0% 175 -1.7%
YTD CFPB Complaints  39185 11080 253.7%
YTD FDCPA lawsuits  9720 10310 -5.7%
YTD FCRA lawsuits  2327 2289 1.7%
YTD TCPA lawsuits  2336 1871 24.9%

Complaint Statistics:

2843 consumers filed CFPB complaints against debt collectors and about 1094 consumers filed lawsuits under consumer statutes in Dec 2014. Here is an approximate breakdown:

  • 2843 CFPB Complaints
  • 836 FDCPA, 77 Class Action (9.2%)
  • 172 TCPA, 22 Class Action (12.8%)
  • 203 FCRA, 10 Class Action (4.9%)

Litigation Summary (scroll down for CFPB data):

  • Of those cases, there were about 1094 unique plaintiffs (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit).
  • Of those plaintiffs, about 339, or (31%), had sued under consumer statutes before.
  • Combined, those plaintiffs have filed about 1267 lawsuits since 2001
  • Actions were filed in 148 different US District Court branches.
  • About 829 different collection firms and creditors were sued.

The top courts where lawsuits were filed:

  • 91 Lawsuits: Illinois Northern District Court – Chicago
  • 62 Lawsuits: Pennsylvania Eastern District Court – Philadelphia
  • 52 Lawsuits: New York Eastern District Court – Brooklyn
  • 45 Lawsuits: California Central District Court – Los Angeles
  • 30 Lawsuits: New Jersey District Court – Newark
  • 30 Lawsuits: Florida Middle District Court – Tampa
  • 28 Lawsuits: Georgia Northern District Court – Atlanta
  • 26 Lawsuits: California Southern District Court – San Diego
  • 22 Lawsuits: New Jersey District Court – Trenton
  • 21 Lawsuits: Colorado District Court – Denver

The most active consumer attorneys were:

  • Representing 40 Consumers: SERGEI LEMBERG
  • Representing 24 Consumers: ADAM JON FISHBEIN
  • Representing 22 Consumers: MOHAMMED OMAR BADWAN
  • Representing 22 Consumers: AHMAD TAYSEER SULAIMAN
  • Representing 21 Consumers: JAMES O LATTURNER
  • Representing 21 Consumers: DANIEL A EDELMAN
  • Representing 19 Consumers: CATHLEEN M COMBS
  • Representing 17 Consumers: TODD M FRIEDMAN
  • Representing 17 Consumers: ARI HILLEL MARCUS
  • Representing 16 Consumers: MARK D MAILMAN

Statistics Year to Date:

12521 total lawsuits for 2014, including:

  • 9720 FDCPA
  • 2327 FCRA
  • 2336 TCPA

Number of Unique Plaintiffs for 2014: 12125 (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit)

The most active consumer attorneys of the year:

  • Representing 508 Consumers: SERGEI LEMBERG
  • Representing 213 Consumers: DAVID MICHAEL LARSON
  • Representing 186 Consumers: AHMAD TAYSEER SULAIMAN
  • Representing 183 Consumers: JOHN THOMAS STEINKAMP
  • Representing 177 Consumers: ADAM JON FISHBEIN
  • Representing 171 Consumers: MICHAEL ANTHONY EADES
  • Representing 167 Consumers: TODD M FRIEDMAN
  • Representing 166 Consumers: MOHAMMED OMAR BADWAN
  • Representing 162 Consumers: CRAIG THOR KIMMEL
  • Representing 157 Consumers: DANIEL A EDELMAN

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CFPB Complaint Statistics:

There were 2843 complaints filed against debt collectors in Dec 2014.

Total number of debt collectors complained about: 723

The types of debt behind the complaints were:

  • 761 Other (phone, health club, etc.) (27%)
  • 759 Unknown (27%)
  • 521 Credit card (18%)
  • 394 Medical (14%)
  • 159 Payday loan (6%)
  • 102 Mortgage (4%)
  • 62 Auto (2%)
  • 49 Non-federal student loan (2%)
  • 36 Federal student loan (1%)

Here is a breakdown of complaints:

  • 1215 Cont’d attempts collect debt not owed (43%)
  • 545 Communication tactics (19%)
  • 496 Disclosure verification of debt (17%)
  • 220 False statements or representation (8%)
  • 200 Improper contact or sharing of info (7%)
  • 167 Taking/threatening an illegal action (6%)

The top five subissues were:

  • 814 Debt is not mine (29%)
  • 348 Frequent or repeated calls (12%)
  • 331 Not given enough info to verify debt (12%)
  • 282 Debt was paid (10%)
  • 174 Attempted to collect wrong amount (6%)

The top states complaints were filed from are:

  • 359 Complaints: CA
  • 331 Complaints: TX
  • 264 Complaints: FL
  • 154 Complaints: NY
  • 120 Complaints: GA
  • 117 Complaints: IL
  • 94 Complaints: OH
  • 87 Complaints: MI
  • 85 Complaints: NJ
  • 79 Complaints: PA

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

  • 1900 Closed with explanation (67%)
  • 420 Closed with non-monetary relief (15%)
  • 231 In progress (8%)
  • 136 Untimely response (5%)
  • 117 Closed (4%)
  • 39 Closed with monetary relief (1%)

This includes 2624 (92%) timely responses to complaints, and 219 (8%) untimely responses.

Of the company responses, consumers accepted 0 (0%) of them, disputed 245 (9%) of them, and 2598 (91%) were N\A.

The top five days for complaints were:

  • 167 Complaints: Mon, 12/22/2014
  • 148 Complaints: Tue, 12/16/2014
  • 146 Complaints: Thu, 12/04/2014
  • 139 Complaints: Thu, 12/18/2014
  • 136 Complaints: Tue, 12/23/2014