The number of Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) lawsuits filed during the first 10 months of the year increased 53.9% compared with the same period in 2008. This year's total is 108.2% higher than in 2007.

More than 6,600 FDCPA lawsuits were filed this year in the United States, compared with 4,314 last year and 3,189 in 2007, according to WebRecon LLC, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based research firm.

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuits filed January through October of this year totaled 22, a 69.2% increase from 13 in 2008. Conversely, the number of Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) cases has declined to 994 this year from 1,021 last year, and from 1,192 in 2007.

The total of unique plaintiffs involved with these cases increased to 7,346 this year from 5,300 in 2008, and from 4,254 two years ago.

"There is a less dramatic spike in the number of unique plaintiffs, which implies significantly more consumers filing multiple lawsuits than before," Jack Gordon, WebRecon's CEO, tells Collections & Credit Risk. "In 2009, there was almost a 39% spike in unique consumers filing over 2008, compared to a 24.5% increase the year before."

The number of unique defendants totaled 5,073 in the first 10 months of this year, compared with 4,636 last year and 4,422 in the same period of 2007.

"The increase in defendants seems to be relatively stagnant, increasing only nominally from year to year – just under 10% this year and just under 5% the year before," Gordon says. "I believe you can attribute this to the fact that there are only so many attractive targets out there and consumer attorneys are going after the deepest pockets."

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