While those of us in the United States have been observing Memorial Day, there has been a flurry of international debt collection stories.
It seems that Australian regulators, like those in the United States, are now warning businesses that they will be held accountable for the actions of their debt collectors. This was noted in a report titled “Research into the Australian Debt Collection Industry,” published by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.
CreditToday, an industry publication in the United Kingdom, reported that The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) released its annual figures on compliants against debt collectors – showing a 51 percent increase over last year – and the Credit Services Association (CSA) has responded. The association suggested that the increase was primarily due to better awareness of the ability to complain, rather than an increase in problems with collectors. In fact, the CSA president put industry complaints in perspective this way: “…the total represents less than two complaints per CSA member – an exceptional performance compared to other parts of the financial services community.”
The Moscow Times reported that Russian utilities debt has risen substantially due to increasing costs, but other factors are also mentioned, including the fact that consumers tend to pay utility bills last, and also that these payments often go through intermediaries, which causes delays. The National Recovery Service, dubbed “Russia’s leading debt collection agency” in the article, provided data to the Times that housing and utilities services debt have soared above 1 trillion rubles (US$20B) for the first time.
And the IT industry news daily in South Africa, IT-Online, is reporting an increase in debt collection outsourcing. The CFO of a company called FutureSoft which developed a debt collection management system estimates that the collection industry in South Africa employs “tens of thousands of people,” and in 2014 was collecting on debt worth more than R75-billion (about US$6.2B). The author notes that “statistics are hard to come by,” which puts South Africa in a similar boat to those of us here in the United States who attempt to size the predominantly privately-held debt collection market.