Fair Debt Collection Practices Act lawsuits have skyrocketed over the past few years and 2012 is shaping up to match 2011’s record numbers. According to WebRecon, a Michigan firm that tracks FDCPA, FCRA and other consumer protection statute filings, 3,659 FDCPA lawsuits have been filed from January 1, 2012 to April 30, 2012. This is about 3% fewer than the same number filed over the same time frames in 2011, which was 3,767.
Still, the flat numbers aren’t good news for debt buyers and collection agencies. 2011 was a record year for FDCPA lawsuits with a shade over 11,800 lawsuits. This, of course, does not include the lawsuits filed in state court alleging violations of the state’s FDCPA equivalent, such as California’s Rosenthal Act. When you combine FDCPA claims and state claims, the numbers have to be staggering.
What does this means for consumers? The answer is simple; more consumers are choosing to take their battles with debt collections to the courts rather than leave it with the credit bureaus. And, it also means more questionable violations. In my FDCPA expert witness work, I’ve certainly seen my fair share of what I would consider to be frivolous claims of credit damage and debt collection misconduct.
This continued volume of FDCPA lawsuits also means FDCPA expert witnesses will continue to be busy. These experts come in all shapes and sizes including those who only do plaintiff’s work and those, like me, who will take cases on both the plaintiff and defense side of the argument. It’s been my experience that many consumers who claim to have been damaged by collection agency actions are ignoring a significant fact, which is that you can’t ignore collections 1-5 and blame all of your credit woes on collection number 6.
Credit Expert Witness, John Ulzheimer, is the President of Consumer Education at SmartCredit.com, the credit blogger for Mint.com, and a Contributor for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. John has been an expert witness in over 100 cases and is twice FCRA Certified by the credit industry. Follow him on Twitter here.