Out Like a Lion… Debt Collection Litigation & CFPB Complaint Statistics, Dec 2015 & Year in Review

Quick analysis:  The year 2016 has gone out like a lion, with consumer litigation continuing to evolve in uncertain, yet bold and dramatic ways. TCPA and FCRA not only broke old records, but destroyed them (with 45% and 53.4% increases over 2014, respectively). **

And FDCPA, after years in decline or plateau, scratched its way back to finish the year 2nd only to its highest ever in 2011. In 2015, there were 11,697 FDCPA litigants, up 16.1% from 10,071 in 2014. But 2015’s number was a mere 4.6% from the all-time high of 2011’s 12,237. With even a fraction of 2015’s momentum, 2016 could easily set a new record for FDCPA litigation. **

consumer-litigation-2007-2015

The total number of unique consumer plaintiffs has been growing aggressively, along with the total amount of litigation. After peaking in 2011, the number of unique litigants had more or less plateaued at around 13,000. That is, until this year, when it exploded to a record 15,854 unique individuals.

CFPB complaints against debt collectors also set a record-high in 2015, but only barely at this point (up 1.5%, from 39,367 in 2014 to 39,952 in 2015). Expect that to increase in the weeks ahead, but only nominally.

For the month, FDCPA was the only one to dip a bit over Nov, down 3.5%. TCPA was up 5.9% and FCRA was up 5.6%. CFPB suits were up 1.3%, and will likely keep inching up for another couple of weeks.

Fun Facts:

  • For December 2015, a higher-than-average 42% of all consumer litigation plaintiffs had sued at least once before under consumer litigation statutes.
  • About 883 different companies were sued, and 716 different debt collectors were complained about to the CFPB.
  • The percentage of suits filed as putative class actions were high all around, with 19.3% for FDCPA, 21.1% for TCPA and 26.7% for FCRA.
  • The Illinois Northern District Court in Chicago once again had the most litigation filed in it, with 90 consumers represented in litigation there.
  • California had the most CFPB complaints against debt collectors, with 336.
  • Attorney David Krieger represented the most consumers for the month with 54, and Todd Friedman represented the most year to date, with 365.

Fun Facts Year in Review:

  • Over all of 2015, 35% of all consumer litigation plaintiffs had sued at least once before under consumer litigation statutes.
  • The percentage of suits filed as putative class actions in 2015 were 16.6% for FDCPA (1938 total), 23.6% for TCPA (877 total) and 16.0% for FCRA (601 total).
  • The Illinois Northern District Court in Chicago had by far the most litigation filed in it, with 1037 consumers represented in litigation there. California had the most CFPB complaints against debt collectors, with 5311.
  • Todd Friedman represented the most consumers year to date, with 365. He was followed by Craig Sanders with 332, Sergei Lemberg with 250, Suren N Weerasuriya with 227 and Craig Thor Kimmel with 214.
Comparisons: Current Period: Previous Period: Previous Year Comp:
Dec 01, 2015
Dec 31, 2015
Nov 01, 2015
Nov 30, 2015
Dec 01, 2014
Dec 31, 2014
CFPB Complaints  2686 2651 1.3% 3000 -10.5%
FDCPA lawsuits  827 857 -3.5% 883 -6.3%
FCRA lawsuits  398 377 5.6% 215 85.1%
TCPA lawsuits  289 273 5.9% 213 35.7%
YTD CFPB Complaints  39952 39367 1.5%
YTD FDCPA lawsuits  11697 10071 16.1%
YTD FCRA lawsuits  3714 2445 51.9%
YTD TCPA lawsuits  3710 2558 45.0%

 

Complaint Statistics:

2686 consumers filed CFPB complaints against debt collectors and about 1275 consumers filed lawsuits under consumer statutes from Dec 01, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015. Here is an approximate breakdown:

  • 2686 CFPB Complaints
  • 827 FDCPA, 160 Class Action (19.3%)
  • 289 TCPA, 61 Class Action (21.1%)
  • 398 FCRA, 79 Class Action (19.8%)

Litigation Summary (scroll down for CFPB data):

  • Of those cases, there were about 1275 unique plaintiffs (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit).
  • Of those plaintiffs, about 496, or (39%), had sued under consumer statutes before.
  • Combined, those plaintiffs have filed about 2219 lawsuits since 2001
  • Actions were filed in 158 different US District Court branches.
  • About 883 different collection firms and creditors were sued.

The top courts where lawsuits were filed:

  • 90 Lawsuits: Illinois Northern District Court – Chicago
  • 68 Lawsuits: Nevada District Court – Las Vegas
  • 51 Lawsuits: Pennsylvania Eastern District Court – Philadelphia
  • 51 Lawsuits: California Central District Court – Los Angeles
  • 49 Lawsuits: New York Eastern District Court – Brooklyn
  • 46 Lawsuits: Georgia Northern District Court – Atlanta
  • 44 Lawsuits: New York Eastern District Court – Central Islip
  • 36 Lawsuits: California Southern District Court – San Diego
  • 34 Lawsuits: New Jersey District Court – Newark
  • 33 Lawsuits: Florida Middle District Court – Tampa

The most active consumer attorneys were:

  • Representing 54 Consumers: DAVID H KRIEGER
  • Representing 37 Consumers: STEPHEN R BASSER
  • Representing 37 Consumers: WYLIE A AITKEN
  • Representing 37 Consumers: SAMUEL M WARD
  • Representing 37 Consumers: DARREN O\’LEARY AITKEN
  • Representing 35 Consumers: CRAIG B SANDERS
  • Representing 30 Consumers: MATTHEW THOMAS BERRY
  • Representing 29 Consumers: PAUL JONATHAN SIEG
  • Representing 27 Consumers: DANNY HOREN
  • Representing 24 Consumers: MARK D MAILMAN

Statistics Year to Date:
15853 total lawsuits for 2015, including:

  • 11697 FDCPA
  • 3714 FCRA
  • 3710 TCPA

Number of Unique Plaintiffs for 2015: 14543 (including multiple plaintiffs in one suit)

The most active consumer attorneys of the year:

  • Representing 365 Consumers: TODD M FRIEDMAN
  • Representing 332 Consumers: CRAIG B SANDERS
  • Representing 250 Consumers: SERGEI LEMBERG
  • Representing 246 Consumers: DAVID H KRIEGER
  • Representing 227 Consumers: SUREN N WEERASURIYA
  • Representing 214 Consumers: CRAIG THOR KIMMEL
  • Representing 213 Consumers: ADRIAN ROBERT BACON
  • Representing 200 Consumers: MOHAMMED OMAR BADWAN
  • Representing 191 Consumers: DANIEL A EDELMAN
  • Representing 189 Consumers: AMY LYNN BENNECOFF GINSBURG

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CFPB Complaint Statistics:

There were 2686 complaints filed against debt collectors from Dec 01, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015.

Total number of debt collectors complained about: 716

The types of debt behind the complaints were:

  • 791 Other (i.e. phone, health club, etc.) (29%)
  • 565 Credit card (21%)
  • 541 I do not know (20%)
  • 438 Medical (16%)
  • 137 Payday loan (5%)
  • 80 Mortgage (3%)
  • 58 Non-federal student loan (2%)
  • 46 Auto (2%)
  • 29 Federal student loan (1%)
  • 1 Unknown (%)

Here is a breakdown of complaints:

  • 1143 Cont’d attempts collect debt not owed (43%)
  • 506 Disclosure verification of debt (19%)
  • 469 Communication tactics (17%)
  • 207 False statements or representation (8%)
  • 184 Improper contact or sharing of info (7%)
  • 177 Taking/threatening an illegal action (7%)

The top five subissues were:

  • 701 Debt is not mine (26%)
  • 313 Frequent or repeated calls (12%)
  • 307 Not given enough info to verify debt (11%)
  • 293 Debt was paid (11%)
  • 176 Right to dispute notice not received (7%)

The top states complaints were filed from are:

  • 356 Complaints: CA
  • 248 Complaints: TX
  • 231 Complaints: FL
  • 152 Complaints: NY
  • 107 Complaints: GA
  • 106 Complaints: PA
  • 98 Complaints: IL
  • 92 Complaints: OH
  • 90 Complaints: NJ
  • 87 Complaints: VA

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

  • 2686 (100%)

This includes 2503 (93%) timely responses to complaints, and 183 (7%) untimely responses.

Of the company responses, consumers accepted 2403 (89%) of them, disputed 278 (10%) of them, and 5 (%) were N\A.

The top five days for complaints were:

  • 161 Complaints: Tue, 12/15/2015
  • 139 Complaints: Tue, 12/08/2015
  • 127 Complaints: Wed, 12/02/2015
  • 126 Complaints: Wed, 12/16/2015
  • 122 Complaints: Mon, 12/21/2015

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** Important note: During end-of-year housekeeping, WebRecon staff discovered (and tapped into) a previously undiscovered, somewhat obscure source of additional federal FDCPA, FCRA and TCPA litigation in PACER. This has had a visible impact on the overall statistics.