Every year the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) collects consumer complaints through its Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN). In 2017, there were 620,800 complaints about debt collection – making it the most common type of consumer complaint compiled in the FTC’s CSN Data Book. Yet, relatively little data about these debt collection complaints is published. Complaints can help regulators understand what types of problems consumers are experiencing with debt collectors and identify actors who may be violating the law. They can also identify the states and regions where consumers report more abusive debt collection practices and help researchers identify factors that lead to these problems. Additionally, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) ongoing debt collection rulemaking, CSN complaint data offers another opportunity to learn about consumer experiences with debt collection.
This National Consumer Law Center report analyzes complaints about debt collection practices collected by the FTC for 2017. It contains some information that has never been published, which was obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.