Georgia number three for complaints about collection company

Georgia ranks third in the nation for illegal practices by companies trying to collect debt — slightly behind number two, according to an analysis of government data.

The ranking came by toting up complaints about collection companies that deceive, harass or use otherwise questionable actions – including attempts to force payment of “zombie debts” that are not actually owed, according to RewardExpert, a web site and company devoted to finding credit card and travel deals for consumers.

The company sifted through data from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau that logged complaints involving debt not owed by the customer: Some had already been paid, some had been discharged through bankruptcy, some involved identity theft.

“You’d expect zombies at your Halloween party, but not when it comes to your finances,” said Roman Shteyn, company co-founder and chief executive officer of RewardExpert.

The law prohibits collection companies from going after consumers when there is no valid debt.

Reports of illegal debt collection attempts jumped 66 percent during the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to RewardExpert’s calculations using data from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

A relatively small number of large debt collection companies accounted for the vast majority of complaints, according to RewardExpert.

The three debt collection agencies that had the most complaints, according to RewardExpert, were Encore Capital Group, Enhanced Recovery Company and Portfolio Recovery Associates.

Encore in 2105 was ordered to pay $42 million to repay customers, plus a $10 million penalty, and to stop collections on $125 million worth of debt, according to RewardExpert. The government said it had decieved consumers. Encore at the time issued a statement asserting that it disagreed with the government, but chose to settle the dispute.

In response to an inquiry by The Atlanta Journal-Contition, a company spokeswoman declined comment.

RewardExpert says it looked only at complaints categorized as being about illegal debt collection practices or debts that were not owed.

Since 2011, Georgia has had 42.41 complaints for every 100,000 residents, with the highest rate of complaints in metro Atlanta, RewardExpert found.

Delaware had the highest rate of complaints: 44.72 complaints for every 100,000 residents. Florida edged out Georgia, with 42.42 complaints per 100,000 people.

The report comes with American debt on the rise and Georgia high on the list of debt-ridden states.

The median credit card debt in Georgia is $2,770 — ninth highest in the nation, according to a study by WalletHub, a Washington, D.C.-based financial advice firm.

Highest was Alaska: $4,040.

Iowa’s credit card debt is lowest: a median of $2,206.

The $67.6 billion in credit card debt that we added in Q4 2017 is the highest quarterly accumulation in the last 30 years – 68% higher than the post-Great Recession average.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Hartsfield-Jackson to rebid CNN contract
Hartsfield-Jackson to rebid CNN contract
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plans to extend its contract for CNN Airport Network programming airing around the terminal and concourses, as it makes plans to rebid the contract. Atlanta-based CNN’s current contract for network news broadcast system at the Atlanta airport started in 2006. The contract was due to expire in 2016 and...
Ex-Equifax exec is arraigned and freed; pleads not guilty
Ex-Equifax exec is arraigned and freed; pleads not guilty

Jun Ying sat silently in court Thursday while Magistrate Judge Linda Walker debated the merits of letting him await trial a free man. The slightly built Ying, the former chief information officer of a sizeable Equifax unit, wore a tieless, blue dress shirt, black, beltless pants and a chain that bound his ankles. He was indicted Tuesday on charges...
Mercedes announces innovation lab as it opens Sandy Springs HQ
Mercedes announces innovation lab as it opens Sandy Springs HQ

Mercedes-Benz will open an innovation lab in metro Atlanta to dream up new products and business lines, a surprise announcement Thursday that came as the German automaker opened its glistening new North American headquarters in Sandy Springs. Lab1886, a reference to the year the founders of Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler Group, built the first...
High Museum photography exhibit features views of Hartsfield-Jackson
High Museum photography exhibit features views of Hartsfield-Jackson
A new photography exhibit that debuted this month at the High Museum of Art features images of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The exhibit, called “Mark Steinmetz: Terminus” at the Atlanta museum running March 3-June 3 includes more than 60 works by Steinmetz, an Athens-based photographer. The exhibit is located on the lower level...
Mercedes-Benz USA to open Sandy Springs headquarters
Mercedes-Benz USA to open Sandy Springs headquarters

Mercedes-Benz USA on Thursday will hold a ceremonial opening its permanent home in Sandy Springs, a North American headquarters that will eventually house about 1,000 high-paid corporate jobs. The $93 million complex at Abernathy and Barfield roads near Ga. 400 is a calling card for company, and a symbol of the company’s new start in metro Atlanta...
More Stories