Debt Collection Litigation & CFPB Complaint Statistics, March 2014

Quick analysis: In the March data we see an answer to one burning question… why were CFPB complaints down so drastically (like 20%) last month? The answer is simple… they weren’t. But, the CFPB did not release the data to show us the full picture until April. Data availability issues aside, we now starting to see a fairly consistent pattern with consumer complaints filed against debt collectors through the CFPB. Take a look at the actual numbers:

201404-cfpb-month-over-month

Other than October 2013, we see complaint volumes holding steady or rising every month. It is reasonable to expect all of these numbers to continue to grow, by the way, as the CFPB continues to populate the complaint database with older data. But the pattern should stay reasonably intact: we have probably not topped out yet in monthly complaint volume.

In consumer litigation, we are seeing a fairly strong uptick in FDCPA lawsuits filed in March 2014, with 875. Compare this to data from the last six months:

201404-fdcpa-month-over-month

Maybe it is nothing. Then again, maybe the market for FDCPA litigation has begun to balance itself. The months ahead will tell. Either way, FDCPA is still down 18% over last year, continuing the three-year trend of declining glory.

FCRA and TCPA litigation hold no big surprises, other than perhaps how close TCPA seems to be to overtaking FCRA as the 2nd most-litigated consumer statute in the debt collection arena. Note that in the first three months of 2011, there were 108 TCPA lawsuits to 296 FCRA lawsuits. In 2012 it was 258 TCPA to 595 FCRA. And last year, it was 478 TCPA to 624 FCRA. This year, in the first three months of tracking, there are 597 TCPA lawsuits to 657 FCRA lawsuits. It is not a matter of if TCPA overtakes FCRA this year, but how many (or few) months will it take to become official.

201404-litigation-stats

Litigation Statistics:

About 3428 consumers filed CFPB complaints against debt collectors and about 1194 consumers filed lawsuits under consumer statutes in March 2014. Here is an approximate breakdown:

  • 3428 CFPB Complaints
  • 875 FDCPA
  • 217 FCRA
  • 224 TCPA

Litigation Summary (scroll down for CFPB data):

  • Of those cases, there were about 1194 unique plaintiffs (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit).
  • Of those plaintiffs, about 413, or (34.6%), had sued under consumer statutes before.
  • Combined, those plaintiffs have filed about 2100 lawsuits since 2001
  • Actions were filed in 157 different US District Court branches.
  • About 846 different collection firms and creditors were sued.

The top courts where lawsuits were filed:

  • 68 Lawsuits: New York Eastern District Court – Brooklyn
  • 65 Lawsuits: Illinois Northern District Court – Chicago
  • 50 Lawsuits: Colorado District Court – Denver
  • 36 Lawsuits: California Southern District Court – San Diego
  • 35 Lawsuits: Pennsylvania Eastern District Court – Philadelphia
  • 34 Lawsuits: Michigan Eastern District Court – Detroit
  • 31 Lawsuits: California Central District Court – Los Angeles
  • 30 Lawsuits: Florida Southern District Court – Fort Lauderdale
  • 29 Lawsuits: Indiana Southern District Court – Indianapolis
  • 28 Lawsuits: Florida Middle District Court – Tampa

The most active consumer attorneys were:

  • Representing 66 Consumers: Sergei Lemberg
  • Representing 26 Consumers: David Michael Larson
  • Representing 23 Consumers: Mark H Rephen
  • Representing 20 Consumers: Todd M Friedman
  • Representing 18 Consumers: David Palace
  • Representing 17 Consumers: Matthew Jon Militzok
  • Representing 16 Consumers: Maxim Maximov
  • Representing 15 Consumers: Michael Anthony Eades
  • Representing 15 Consumers: John Thomas Steinkamp
  • Representing 15 Consumers: Shireen Hormozdi

Statistics Year to Date: 2975 total lawsuits for 2014, including:

  • 2378 FDCPA
  • 597 FCRA
  • 657 TCPA

Number of Unique Plaintiffs: 3157 (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit)

The most active consumer attorneys of the year:

  • Representing 175 Consumers: Sergei Lemberg
  • Representing 74 Consumers: David Michael Larson
  • Representing 60 Consumers: Erikson M Davis
  • Representing 48 Consumers: Todd M Friedman
  • Representing 47 Consumers: John Thomas Steinkamp
  • Representing 47 Consumers: Michael Anthony Eades
  • Representing 41 Consumers: Matthew Jon Militzok
  • Representing 38 Consumers: David J Philipps
  • Representing 37 Consumers: Mary Elizabeth Philipps
  • Representing 36 Consumers: Adam Jon Fishbein

 

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CFPB Complaint Statistics:

There were about 3428 complaints filed against debt collectors in March 2014.

Total number of debt collectors complained about: 707

The types of debt behind the complaints were:

  • 953 Other (phone, health club, etc.) (27.8%)
  • 834 Credit card (24.3%)
  • 685 Unknown (20%)
  • 307 Medical (9%)
  • 273 Payday loan (8%)
  • 145 Mortgage (4.2%)
  • 91 Auto (2.7%)
  • 75 Non-federal student loan (2.2%)
  • 65 Federal student loan (1.9%)

Here is a breakdown of complaints:

  • 1366 Cont’d attempts collect debt not owed (39.8%)
  • 679 Disclosure verification of debt (19.8%)
  • 609 Communication tactics (17.8%)
  • 273 Improper contact or sharing of info (8%)
  • 273 False statements or representation (8%)
  • 228 Taking/threatening an illegal action (6.7%)

The top five subissues were:

  • 810 Debt is not mine (23.6%)
  • 512 Not given enough info to verify debt (14.9%)
  • 363 Debt was paid (10.6%)
  • 358 Frequent or repeated calls (10.4%)
  • 206 Attempted to collect wrong amount (6%)

The top states complaints were filed from are:

  • 455 Complaints: CA
  • 289 Complaints: FL
  • 288 Complaints: TX
  • 203 Complaints: NY
  • 158 Complaints: GA
  • 133 Complaints: VA
  • 129 Complaints: PA
  • 119 Complaints: NJ
  • 118 Complaints: OH
  • 97 Complaints: IL

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

  • 2354 Closed with explanation (68.7%)
  • 561 Closed with non-monetary relief (16.4%)
  • 253 In progress (7.4%)
  • 107 Closed (3.1%)
  • 78 Closed with monetary relief (2.3%)
  • 75 Untimely response (2.2%)

This includes 3323 (96.9%) timely responses to complaints, and 105 (3.1%) untimely responses

Of the company responses, consumers accepted 2921 (85.2%) of them, and disputed 507 (14.8%) of them

The top five days for complaints were:

  • 182 Complaints: Thu, 03/06/2014
  • 177 Complaints: Thu, 03/27/2014
  • 171 Complaints: Thu, 03/13/2014
  • 162 Complaints: Tue, 03/11/2014
  • 158 Complaints: Tue, 03/18/2014