Complaints against debt collectors filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau edged lower in July compared with June - 3,269 from 3,390, according to data reported Tuesday.

July marks one year since the CFPB began fielding complaints against the collection industry. In July 2013, there were only 901 complaints filed as the CFPB ramped up the program. Those numbers jumped the next month. WebRecon, a data tracking firm based in Grand Rapids, Mich., pulled the data from the CFPB, along with lawsuit totals filed at U.S. district courts.

There were a total of 717 debt collectors complained about in July. Editor's Note: More information on the types of complaints can be found at the bottom of this story.

On the statutory front, consumers filed 828 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lawsuits, of which 9.9% are class actions. Year-to-date, FDCPA lawsuits through July 31 totaled 5,701, down 12.4% from 6,406 filed in July 2013.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act and Fair Credit Reporting Act lawsuits showed some volatility in July compared with July. TCPA cases fell nearly 8% (to 196 from 211) and FCRA lawsuits rose more than 15% (to 202 from 171) from the previous month.

Of the FCRA lawsuits, 21 (10.4%) are class actions. Of the 196 TCPA lawsuits, 19 (9.7%) are class actions.
Year-to-date both TCPA and FCRA lawsuits are significantly higher. TCPA cases are up 33.6% (1,525 compared with 1,012 last year); FCRA cases are up 11.6% (1,376 compared with 1,217 last year).

Some 855 different collection agencies and creditors were sued in July. Of the cases, there were an estimated 1,146 unique plaintiffs. Of the plaintiffs, approximately 365 (or 32%) previously sued under consumer statutes. Combined, those plaintiffs have filed approximately 1,564 lawsuits since 2001.

Attorneys Sergei Lemberg and David Michael Larson were the most active attorneys in July, filing 30 and 25 lawsuits respectively. Lemberg (323 lawsuits) and Larson (162 lawsuits) also top the year-to-date list.

The types of debt behind the complaints were:

    •    886 Other (phone, health club, etc.) (27%)
    •    712 Unknown (22%)
    •    679 Credit card (21%)
    •    407 Medical (12%)
    •    263 Payday loan (8%)
    •    105 Mortgage (3%)
    •    87 Auto (3%)
    •    74 Non-federal student loan (2%)
    •    56 Federal student loan (2%)

The breakdown of complaints:
    •    1,347 Continued attempts to collect debt not owed (41%)
    •    653 Communication tactics (20%)
    •    563 Disclosure verification of debt (17%)
    •    268 False statements or representation (8%)
    •    239 Taking/threatening an illegal action (7%)
    •    199 Improper contact or sharing of info (6%)
 
The top 10 states complaints were filed from are:
    •    441 Complaints: California
    •    288 Complaints: Texas
    •    254 Complaints: Florida
    •    173 Complaints: New York
    •    164 Complaints: Georgia
    •    138 Complaints: Ohio
    •    116 Complaints: New Jersey
    •    115 Complaints: Illinois
    •    113 Complaints: Pennsylvania
    •    106 Complaints: Virginia

The status of the month’s complaints are as follows:
    •    2,225 Closed with explanation (68%)
    •    573 Closed with non-monetary relief (18%)
    •    241 In progress (7%)
    •    114 Closed (3%)
    •    75 Untimely response (2%)
    •    41 Closed with monetary relief (1%)

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