Debt collectors getting bigger and collecting more complaints

Debt collection has become a big business in the United States.   Many of the firms that specialize in buying old debt from creditors and then collecting what they can, have become so big they have gone public.  Just the top four of these publicly traded companies bought $21.8 billion dollars of debt in 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal, and collected almost $1 billion from the creditors whose debt they now own.

We have many BLOG entries on debt collectors, and if you read them you will see that they “don’t get no respect” from me.   Debt collectors will say or do almost anything to get you to send them money.  And they often ignore the legal restrictions placed on their behavior (like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act).  One of our BLOG entries on this subject will take you to confessions of former debt collectors who used questionable techniques.

Last year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 140,036 complaints against debt collection firms, up 17% from 2009.  Since 2010 the FTC has brought five enforcement actions against debt collection firms and collected several million dollars, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is soon going to be an additional federal regulator for debt collection firms and I hope they will do more to control bad behavior from these firms.  Meanwhile, as I have suggested, the best thing to do is not to deal with debt collectors.  The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prevents them from contacting you if you tell them not to — in writing. This page from our main section shows you options for dealing with debts of various sizes.

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