American Debt Collection: Spiraling Out of Control (Infographic)

As someone that’s been in and out of debt, I know well what it feels like to be
hounded and haunted by creditors. And I’m terrified over the increasingly
aggressive measures collectors are taking to recover payments. U.S. collection
laws are loose, but there are many lines they cannot cross. It’s important for every
borrower to know the difference between persistence and harassment.

Collector abuse is definitely on the rise. Since the recession, formal complaints
against collectors have risen 66% and dozens of private debt collection agencies
have lost licenses for their abusive collection methods. This is due in part to the
major shove big banks have made since 2008 to recover billions in unpaid credit
and penalties. Since then, most of these creditors, from Chase to the Dept. of
Education, have contracted collections to private firms. These smaller agencies
pay collectors little and reward with commissions on debts recovered. As a result,
some collectors, many in debt themselves, have been found lying, stalking and even
threatening to make collection quotas.

I really hope that our latest infographic on this surprisingly large and mostly-legal
industry will prove as a resource to those working hard to stay a payment and step
ahead of their creditors.

american debt collection infographic


  1. How about paying your bills on time so you don’t have to deal with debt collectors. Crazy I know…

    • If it were only that simple. Debt collectors are notorious for going after false debts, paid and settled debts, and debts belonging to the wrong consumer.

      Let’s pray you never become the victim of identify theft either. Then you may have some compassion for these “deadbeats.”

      • I had this experience last year where the collector kept calling and insisted that the phone number they were calling was “Betty’s” and that I was either lying to her or trying to protect whoever Betty is.

  2. Great post and wonderful graphic. I think they will only get more aggressive as our country (and its individuals) tries to de-leverage itself out of the enormous debt… if possible.

  3. Thanks for posting and sharing this great infographic; it’s very detailed, informative and well researched. It makes me second guess of regulation such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act are actually being enforced properly.

  4. “You can’t get blood out of a turnip”. Works for me…

    BTW, Frugal Dad. Quoting the lying Cherokee-wanna-be
    E. Warren does nothing for your credibility.

  5. These infographics often contain biased and innacurate information. For an example of innacuracy, student loan debt exceeded credit card debt way back in 2010 (not this past march 2012), and I dont think it has changed since.

  6. Not sure if I should be saddened or angered to see comments from people claiming that it’s a simple matter to merely pay your debts and you will never have this problem. What arrogance! (not to mention complete ignorance). Many middle-class families are currently in a position of having to choose among which bills can be paid, in other words, prioritizing. Sure, some people have brought problems upon themselves by living outside their means, but that is not the majority. Prices keep going up, companies show little to no compassion for people undergoing financial struggles, and then they (these companies) make matters worse by contracting out to collection agencies who will do almost anything to collect on a debt, sometimes on debts as low as $10. And God forbid you ever go through identity theft as I have. Collectors make life miserable, even those who follow the law. If everyone could pay their bills then many of these companies and banks wouldn’t remain in business because many of them thrive primarily on interest payments and exorbitant penalties. The system is broken and the corporations are robbing us blind.

    • Thank you, I hate all those, arrogant nasty comments when ever subject like this come up. It seems common sense and decency have gone out the window in America this days

  7. Excellent comments about the abuse that some debt collects resort to to collect money. It’s abhorent that they dare bully and abuse creditors, after all those same creditors pay their wages!

  8. I have to hand it to you, another great graphic. If you don’t mind me asking, do you make these yourself, or do you outsource them?

  9. It’s sad to see what people will do for a dollar. Debt collectors are trying to make their living too, but they do so by harassing and threatening people which isn’t right. I had to deal with a collection agency on two occasions for very small bills that I had overlooked and I definitely don’t ever want to deal with one ever again and have been very cautious and careful about keeping track of all my receipts and finances since then because they’re pushy, mean and manipulative. This is really informative, I had no idea companies made so much money off of credit card debt alone.

  10. This is quite alarming. I seldom borrowed from banks. I opted to borrow from friends and family since the recession began. But I did hear about one of my work colleagues getting harassed by debt collectors. That must terrible. I wish they could be more humane in carrying out their responsibility in collecting debt. Great post by the way!.

  11. Great post! I think debt collection would not be a big a problem if our government was promoting debt as the solution to a soft economy. Worse yet they then run off and mandate lower rates for certain borrowers, principal forgiveness for others, etc. This breeds a feeling that such obligations are not binding and leads to collection problems.

    No doubt that collection firms over step their bounds from time to time, but we as Americans need to wake up and discover that the best debt is no debt.