May 19, 2014

Are Consumer Complaints about Debt Collection on the Decline?

ACA International (the Association of Credit and Collections Professionals) has been investigating complaints to the CFPB Consumer Financial Protections Bureau concerning debt collection methods and claims of harassment by consumers.

ACA International is working with collection companies and consumers to find a balance between consumer protections and the ability to receive debt owed.

A recent analysis of consumer complaints reveals that in April, 2014, credit cards complaints, the most significant category of complaints received by the CFPB, dropped approximately 37 percent between March and April. From January, 2014 to April 2014, there were approximately 5,030 complaints to the CFPB. The majority of the complaints pertained to, “a debt the consumers believed they did not owe.” In April, this particular category declined by 32 percent.

In 2010 the United States Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB. This new organization’s job was to monitor the third-party debt collection industry and create a database of complaints by consumers.

In the summer of 2013, the CFPB began taking consumer complaints relating to debt collection. Consumers were able to register a complaint and have it reviewed or solved via communication with debt collectors.

In March of 2014, ACA International conducted an analysis of the CFPB’s debt collection complaints. ACA International recommended a few key strategies to more effectively analyze and mediate debt collector and consumer interactions:

  • Clearly identify first-party collections from third-party collections in complaint reporting and avoid the potential for double counting complaints that stem from the same underlying issue.
  • Maintain context by resisting the temptation to use a broad-brush to paint debt collectors and make assumptions about the behavior of an entire industry solely on the volume of complaints.
  • Provide more detail to debt collectors who are the subject of a complaint to increase the likelihood of more easily identifying the information needed to resolve the consumer’s complaint (ACA International, 2014).
  • Adopt a definition of complaint that is limited to consumer allegations of wrongful conduct and does not include the concept of general consumer dissatisfaction outside of wrongful conduct.

This most recent information indicates that the efforts of ACA International and those of the CFPB to mitigate consumer protections and debt collector rights, could be headed in the right direction.

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Having a merchant account allows an account holder to take advantage of merchant cash advances. When a merchant is approved for an advance, the business agrees to receive a lump sum of cash in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of future credit card sales.

Pricing varies depending the merchant’s industry, past credit card processing history, the type of business seeking the account, average ticket sales, and average transaction volumes.

Yes, EMB works with merchants who are building their credit, as well as those who have poor credit. EMB also approves merchants that have no credit card processing history and businesses that have lost their merchant accounts due to high chargebacks.

Several factors influence a merchant’s risk level. Though only one factor likely will not get a merchant classified as high risk, a combination of these may: business size, location, and industry, credit score, credit card processing history, a industry’s reputation for excessive chargebacks, a prior history of high chargeback ratios, and whether a merchant exclusively sells online.

Virtual terminals are stationed on a merchant’s website, making it easy for customers to make a payment or purchase online. Merchants or a payment processor can easily set up virtual terminals, so online businesses can accept credit and debit card and e-check transactions.

A merchant account is a business account with an acquiring bank. Without this business account, which actually works more like a line of credit, a merchant cannot accept and process credit and debit card transactions. Businesses need a merchant account to accept major credit cards via a static point-of-sale terminal, mobile card reader, or through a virtual payment gateway.

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