On July 18, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report analyzing market data from 2004 through 2018 on third-party debt collections tradelines reflected on credit reports compiled by the nationwide consumer reporting agencies. The CFPB segmented the report into two parts: buyers (entities that purchase debts and then collect on them) and non-buyers (entities that collect debts on behalf of others).
The Report marked the difference in the type of third-party collections tradelines reported by buyers as compared to non-buyers in 2018. Buyer tradelines primarily reported banking, retail, and financial debt, while nearly two-thirds of non-buyer tradelines reported medical debt. By comparison, only about one percent of buyer tradelines reported medical debt in 2018. When viewed more broadly, 58 percent of total third-party collection tradelines were for medical debt alone.
In 2018, the top four largest debt buyers by tradelines reported 90 percent of buyer tradelines while the top four largest non-buyers by tradelines reported 13 percent of non-buyer tradelines. Regarding consumer disputes, from 2012 through 2018, the percentage of disputed buyer tradelines grew from .07 percent to .56 percent while the percentage of non-buyer tradelines remained constant at around .02 percent.
The CFPB acknowledges that their findings do not allow for a conclusion on the cause of the data observed.