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Surge in debt collection activity likely to draw scrutiny

Dec 24, 2011 Mike Garretson

While the economy appears to be making a more robust turn toward recovery, consumer debt is projected to remain a chief concern for years to come. Rising tuition costs and market conditions continue to drive up student loan debt, despite many Americans carrying lower balances. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York recently reported that the total volume of U.S. student debt now outweighs that of credit card dues. What this means for the debt collection industry is heightened demand. However, as debt collection activity rises, the market is likely to attract scrutiny as well, as collectors are pressured to adhere to ethical collection standards. In fact, complaints against debt collectors climbed 17 percent this year, according to the Federal Trade Commission. This underscores the need for debt collectors to remain lawful and respectful in their business. "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," reports Jessica Silver-Greenberg for The Wall Street Journal. "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."