Total lawsuits filed under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act rose in January compared to January 2014 while lawsuits citing violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act fell in the same year-over-year comparison. The numbers, while clearly very early in the year, reverse a trend from the past three years.
There were 765 FDCPA suits filed in federal courts in January, up 5.4% from the previous January, according to data provided by WebRecon LLC. The total represented a 9% increase from the previous month, however.
TCPA suits totaled 142 in January, down more than 33% from a year ago and down almost 18% from December.
In January, repeat filers continued to account for a significant portion of lawsuits filed under the FDCPA and TCPA, with 36% of suits filed by consumers who previously filed such actions. Class actions represented about 15% of FDCPA suits and roughly 4% of TCPA suits
Although just the first month of the year, the filings represent a sharp turnaround in both FDCPA and TCPA lawsuit trends of the past several years.
Total TCPA lawsuits set a record in 2014 after years of double-digit growth. FDCPA suits, meanwhile, fell for the third straight year.
Total filings last year reached 14,383, slightly less than 2013's total of 14.470.
The steady decline in FDCPA lawsuits before the latest report has been at least partially offset by a rise in cases claiming violations of the TCPA. In 2014, the total number of TCPA cases filed increased 25%.
Five years ago, the TCPA was a blip on the radar of the collection industry. A large increase in mobile phone usage in the U.S. has helped make the TCPA a more appealing statute for consumers.