Nearly 300 collection agencies and creditors were named in 436 consumer lawsuits filed nationwide in the first half of February, according to data from U.S. District Court complaint dockets.

The 15-day total of 293 trails the pace established in January, when 712 collection agencies and creditors were named in 851 lawsuits.

The 15-day total includes 372 cases citing violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and is slightly ahead of the pace in January when FDCPA suits totaled 716. The number of Fair Credit Reporting Act lawsuits totaled 38 in early February.

The research firm WebRecon LLC compiles the monthly data.

ACA International, a collection industry trade group, said several factors are contributing to a rise in FDCPA lawsuits, including increased online advertising by consumer attorneys and rising consumer debt.

ACA officials said they are not convinced that more FDCPA litigation is driven by an actual increase in violations, because the statistics do not indicate whether the suits have merit.

In 2009, lawsuits citing FDCPA violations reached 8,287, a record high that easily topped the previous mark of 5,188 set a year earlier, according to U.S. District Courts.

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