The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau handled 84,500 debt collection complaints in 2017 and consumers viewed or downloaded information 838,255 times from the agency's web site last year on how to negotiate a settlement with a debt collector.
In a joint annual report to Congress released Tuesday with the Federal Trade Commission about debt collection practices, the CFPB said it had initiated four enforcement actions last year, had resolved one case and has five others pending related to unlawful debt collection practices.
Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney has indicated that debt collection will be a top priority for the agency. About 26% of consumers with a credit file have debt that is being collected by a third party, the CFPB said.
The CFPB and FTC share enforcement responsibilities under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and entered into a memorandum of understanding in 2012 to coordinate enforcement and share supervisory information.
"From now on we will be working closely with the FTC to enforce the FDCPA while protecting the legal rights of all in a manner that is efficient, effective, and accountable,” Mulvaney said in a press release.
The CFPB recovered $577,000 in consumer relief from its enforcement actions while $78,800 was paid into the civil penalty fund, which is used to provide relief to eligible consumers who otherwise would not be compensated.
By comparison, the FTC said in the report that it had filed or resolved 10 cases against 42 defendants, obtained more than $64 million in judgments, and banned 13 companies and individuals engaging in "serious and repeated violations of law from ever working in debt collection again."
The FTC said recent cases had focused on stopping so-called "phantom debt collection." The agency said it was also pursuing false and misleading claims, as well as threats against or harassment of consumers.
The FTC also recently led "Operations Game of Loans," a federal and state law enforcement sweep against student loan debt relief scams that included 36 enforcement actions by the FTC and states.