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Market Snapshot: Third-Party Debt Collections Tradeline Reporting

Debt collections is a multi-billion dollar industry affecting millions of consumers who have or are contacted about a debt in collections. This report, which covers 2004 to 2018, is drawn from the Bureau’s Consumer Credit Panel (CCP), a nationally representative sample of approximately 5 million de-identified credit records maintained by one of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. It provides a basic overview of third-party debt collections tradelines reported in the CCP. A tradeline is information about a consumer account that is sent, generally on a regular basis, to a consumer reporting agency. Tradelines contain data such as account balance, payment history, and status of the account. The information contained in tradelines is used to create consumer credit scores. Among other things, it finds:

  • More than one-in-four consumers (28 percent) with a credit report in the CCP in 2018 had at least one third-party collections tradeline on their file. 
  • More than three-out-of-four third-party collections tradelines are for non-financial debt with more than half (58 percent) of these tradelines for medical debt and another 20 percent for telecommunications or utilities debt. Positive payment information is generally not furnished for such non-financial debt.  
  • Tradelines from debt buyers, which tend to be for financial services debt, are more likely than those from other collectors to show a new instance of consumer disagreement with a completed Fair Credit Reporting Act dispute investigation.

Full report

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