FTC Issues 2010 Annual Report on FDCPA to Congress

FTC Reports Consumer Complaints Rise 17% in 2010

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued its 2011 annual report to Congress on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) showing that consumer debt collection complaints rose 17% in 2010.  The federal agency received 140,036 debt collection complaints in 2010 compared to 119,609 in 2009.  The FTC also reported that it received more complaints about the debt collection industry than from any other specific industry.

Top Categories for Debt Collection Complaints

The top areas which consumers complain about were:

•    calling repeatedly or continuously

•    misrepresenting the character, amount or status of the debt (including demanding a larger payment that is permitted by law)

•    Failing to send consumers the required written notice about the debt and their rights

•    Threatening dire consequences if the consumer fails to pay, including false threats of legal action, threats of criminal prosecution, wage garnishment, and damage to consumer’s credit rating.

•    Failing to identify that it is a debt collector

•    Revealing alleged debt to third parties, including family, friends, and co-workers.

•    Calls to consumer’s place of employment

•    Failing to verify disputed debts

•    Continuing to contact consumers after receiving written notice to stop all communication.

FTC Provides Information About Consumers’ Rights

The FTC’s “Debt Collection FAQs: Guide for Consumers” brochure is available at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre18.shtm.  The FTC also has an animated video that explains consumer rights regarding debt collection. It can be viewed at http://www.ftc.gov/debtcollection and http://www.youtube.com/ftcvideos.

FDCPA Prohibits Deceptive, Unfair and Abusive Practices

The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using any deceptive, unfair, and abusive collection tactics to attempt to collect a debt. Though the FTC may take action against some third-party debt collectors or debt-buyers, most Arizona consumers will obtain relief only from bringing a private action in Arizona courts.

If you are an Arizona consumer who has been contacted by a third-party debt collector or debt buyer and feel that their collection actions were deceptive, unfair, harassing, or abusive, please call Floyd W. Bybee at the BYBEE LAW CENTER, PLC (480) 756-8822.