Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) lawsuits ended 2012 behind 2011's total, a trend that began early in the year and held, according to data pulled from U.S. district courts. The total was down seven percent (11,495 in 2012 compared with 12,298 in 2011).
Both Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuits, however, were significantly higher in 2012. TCPA cases soared 34 percent to 1,101 last year compared with 825 in 2011. FCRA cases jumped 17 percent to 2,249 in 2012 compared with 1,930 in 2011, according to WebRecon LLC, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based company that pulled the data from the courts.
WebRecon expects all of the numbers to be slightly revised after a more thorough review but the trends should stay consistent, company officials stated.
The FDCPA total fell for the first time in a nine-year comparison provided by WebRecon. There were 2,792 FDCPA cases in 2004, jumping to 4,329 in 2007 and 11,354 in 2010. The record was reached in 2011.
FCRA totals have fluctuated in the nine-year comparison but have steadily risen since the start of that period - from 1,084 in 2004 to 1,516 in 2007 down to 1,422 in 2010 before the large jumps in the past two years.
TCPA data was not tracked through the entire period but the numbers have jumped from 345 in 2010 to 1,101 in 2012.
In the most recent reporting period of Dec. 16-31, an estimated 484 different collection agencies and creditors were sued. There were an estimated 436 total consumer statute lawsuits, including 358 FDCPA cases. Of the total of 474 unique plaintiffs, an estimated 171 (or 36 percent) previously sued under consumer statutes. Combined, they have filed an estimated 961 lawsuits since 2001.
The most active consumer attorneys in the recent period were: Gus M. Centrone and Thomas A. Lash, each representing 18 consumers, followed by David M. Larson (15) and Daniel A. Edelman (13).
The top courts for lawsuits were: New York Eastern District Court, Brooklyn (28), Illinois Northern District Court, Chicago (27) and Pennsylvania Eastern District Court, Philadelphia (24).