Update: The ACA International, which represents debt collectors, responds to the FTC report, saying it “paints an inaccurate portrait of consumer complaints against the third-party debt collection industry for several reasons.”
Those reasons, according to ACA: More debt being collected equals more contacts equals more complaints. New technology makes it easier for consumers to submit complaints. Consumers are often unaware of their debt collection rights. An FTC complaint doesn’t necessarily mean the debt collector violated the law. The FTC adds up complaints; debt collectors are willing to work with consumers to resolve problems.
The Federal Trade Commission released its annual report on top complaints and Maryland figures prominently.
Consumers gripe most about debt collection and filed 180,928 complaints — 10 percent of all gripes — with the FTC about debt collection last year. Debt collection was the No. 1 problem that Marylanders complained about, making up 13 percent of all complaints lodged by residents here.
(My story today reports on a growing problem of fake debt collectors, which likely accounts for thousands of those complaints.)
But consumers have lots of other problems to complain about, too.
Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries were the second most complained about service, with 100,208 complaints lodged.
Shop at home and catalog sales; banks and lenders and Internet services came in third, fourth and fifth respectively.
Maryland, on a per capita basis, came in third place for reported fraud and other complaints, after 1st place Colorado and No. 2 Delaware.
Marylanders filed 31,531 complaints, or 547 per 100,000 residents.
We came in 9th for identity theft complaints, with 4,980 complaints last year or more than 86 per 100,000 residents. Marylanders said they lost nearly $27.8 million in fraudulent schemes.