Your voice, your story. Consumer views on debt collection

Debt Collection blog illustration

Across the country, we hear from consumers about their experiences with debt collection: debiting accounts without authorization, attempting to collect from the wrong consumer, excessive and harassing phone calls, calling at inappropriate times, threats of arrest or criminal prosecution, and consumer confusion as to whether they owe the amount of debt claimed by the collector.

You are not alone.

In the United States today, debt collection is a $13.7 billion dollar industry with more than 6,000 debt collection firms operating in the United States. Debt collection affects 70 million consumers who have or are contacted about a debt in collection. We’ve already published more than 129,000 debt collection complaints in our Consumer Complaint Database. We handle more complaints about debt collection than any other financial product or service. 

We are listening.

We know that debt collection is an issue that can feel especially overwhelming, and we want collectors to treat you fairly. The story of how a financially struggling consumer gets to the point of falling behind on financial obligations can reflect all the many struggles of the human condition. There are also issues where the debt may not be yours or may not be correct. Some of the major issues we have seen consumers submit complaints about involve debt collectors contacting the wrong consumer, attempting to collect the wrong amount, harassing or threatening consumers, and using too frequent or inappropriate contact methods. Consumers have also reported a lack of debt verification in response to a dispute. 

Consumers’ Debt Collection Experiences

We surveyed consumers regarding their views and experiences in debt collection and today we have released a report on our findings. This survey is the first of its kind, and the most in-depth analysis currently available of consumers’ encounters with the debt collection industry. You can read the report here

We’ve also heard directly from some consumers about their experiences in debt collection. Over the next few weeks, we will share some of the debt collection stories we’ve heard. And, we want to hear from you. Your voice helps inform our work as we consider how to develop better protections in the debt collection market.

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing stories about people who have faced different debt collection issues.

Meet William

William photo

William told us that someone took a credit card out in his name and he was contacted a few years later about an $8,000 debt he didn’t know existed and wasn’t his.

Experiences like William’s are one of the reasons why we’re studying the debt collection market and considering proposals to strengthen consumer protection and help bring clarity to these tough situations. Learn more about William. 

Tell your story. 

Your voice helps inform our work as we consider how to develop better protections in the debt collection market.

Watch Williams’s full story, see more stories about debt collection, or find out how you can tell your story.

Join the conversation. Follow CFPB on Twitter and Facebook .