The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released its semi-annual report to Congress, focusing on actions from April through September. The report includes a review of the CFPB's complaint process and regulations involving the collection industry.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray in the report reviewed enforcement actions and the issuance of final rules in the industries regulated by the CFPB. He also discussed the bureau's supervisory activities and guidance.

The CFPB calls out the debt collection industry as "generat[ing] more complaints to the federal government each year than any other consumer financial services market."

The report states that many collection companies "play by the rules. But others cut corners and seek to gain an advantage by ignoring the rules. These bad actors are a detriment to every company that is faithfully following the law, and their actions harm consumers."

According to Cordray, as consumers continue to rebound from the effects of the financial crisis of 2008, "we find that debt collection is central and cut across virtually all credit products: credit cards, mortgages, student loans, payday loans and other consumer loans. Currently, about 30 million consumers - nearly one out of every 10 Americans - are subject to debt collection, for amounts that average about $1,500 each."

The CFPB is developing a survey to learn about consumers’ experiences with debt collection that will provide information related to debt collection on a broad cross-section of consumers that is not available elsewhere, according to the report.

"Collecting, investigating and responding to consumer complaints are integral parts of the CFPB's work, as Congress set forth in the Dodd-Frank Act. The bureau hears directly from consumers about the challenges they face in the marketplace, brings their concerns to the attention of companies, and assists in addressing their complaints," according to the report.

Collection complaints were added to the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database in November 2013. 

Complaints against collection companies rose in October, the most recent month available, according to WebRecon, a Michigan data-tracking firm.


Top complaints about collections in the month include:

    •    1,316 continued attempts to collect debt not owed (43%)
    •    538 communication tactics (18%)
    •    479 disclosure verification of debt (16%)

Collection complaints rose 4% to 3,033 in October compared with 2,913 in September. There were 1,792 collection complaints in October 2013. Year-to-date, CFPB complaints increased by 81.4%, 6,202 to 33,272, however that number is skewed since the CFPB did not begin tracking complaints until mid-2013.

The CFPB continues to review comments on its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for collection released in November 2013, and is conducting research on the topic. The CFPB extended the time period for collection "pre-rule" activities from this month to April 2015.


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