CFPB Report: Over 125,000 complaints against debt collectors in 2012

Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) - which is the government agency devoted exclusively to the financial protection of consumers - released their annual report regarding its efforts to oversee the implementation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices ACT (FDCPA).

Importantly, this report detailed of the number of complaints received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2012 regarding various debt collector practices - including debt collector harassment. In total, the CFPB report indicates that the FTC received a staggering 125,136 debt collector complaints in 2012.

Role of CFPB in overseeing the FDCPA

As part of CFPB's duties, it supervises and monitors debt collection practices in order to ensure collectors adhere to the principles set forth in the FDCPA - which includes being on the look-out for signs of creditor harassment or abusive collection tactics.

For instance, there are several actions that debt collectors are expressly prohibited from engaging in, according to the FTC, including:

  • A debt collector may not repeatedly use the phone to annoy
  • A debt collector may not misrepresent the amount owed by a debtor
  • A debt collector may not use obscene language when collecting a debt
  • A debt collector may not use threats of harm or violence
  • A debt collector may not publically publish the names of people who refuse to pay debts

Interestingly, many consumer complaints regarding debt collector practices deal with these exact prohibitions. For example, of the over 125,000 FDCPA complaints received by the FTC in 2012 - and detailed in the CFPB report - 37,543, involved allegations of creditor harassment due to repeated or continuous collection calls. In addition, there were 39,993 complaints from consumers in 2012 who claim that a debt collector misrepresented the amount, character or status of a debt.

Unfortunately, these are just a few types of debt collection complaints outlined in the recent CFPB report - which is just further proof that debtors continue to be plagued by ruthless debt collectors that employ devious collection practices.

However, debtors need to be aware that there are options available in addition to filing complaints to fight back against debt collectors, such as bankruptcy. Specifically, when a debtor files for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all efforts by debt collectors must cease until the bankruptcy is completed. In addition, many outstanding debts can be discharged - meaning you do not have to pay them back - during a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Consequently, if you are facing insurmountable debt and daily calls from harassing debt collectors, it may be a good idea to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. A skilled bankruptcy attorney can help with the filing process and provide advice as to which bankruptcy option may be the most appropriate in your circumstances.