that tracks allegations of illegal late-night phone calls, arrest
threats and other abuse. But few of the complaints are likely to
result in enforcement actions.
The debt-collection industry, booming as many Americans struggle to
catch up on their payments or walk away from what they owe, was the
subject of a record 164,361 complaints through Dec. 8 of this year,
according to the Federal Trade Commission. The total is 17% higher
than the 140,036 debt-collection complaints the FTC got for all of
Since the start of this year, though, the FTC has launched just four
enforcement actions against debt-collection firms under the primary
federal law used to oversee the industry. From 2005 to 2010, the
average was two cases a year.
The actions often target companies that are responsible for hundreds,
if not thousands, of consumer complaints.