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Market Research Report

U.S. Debt Collection Agencies: An Industry Analysis (8th Edition)

Published by Marketdata LLC Product code 235742
Published Content info 186 Pages
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U.S. Debt Collection Agencies: An Industry Analysis (8th Edition)
Published: April 3, 2012 Content info: 186 Pages

This publication has been discontinued on July 2, 2018.



This newly updated bestseller by Marketdata examines the $12 billion business of debt collection agencies. Complaints by consumers about harassment by collectors still exists and tops the list of complaints to the FTC. With the recession, it has gotten worse, since it has become more difficult to collect on (liquidate) accounts. Lots of accounts are being placed, but colleting is more difficult, since many consumers are still out of work, have high debt service loads, face high gas prices, and are struggling to pay for the necessities, with little left over to repay debts.

Collections is a fragmented business of 4,500 mostly small firms. Major consolidation has taken place amongst collections agencies since the late 1990's, and one firm, NCO Financial Systems, now accounts for $1.5 billion in sales, by virtue of acquiring its biggest competitor (OSI Solutions). Technology is making firms more efficient and profitability had risen until the recession hit. After a period of strong growth from 1999-2004, top-line revenue growth has slowed substantially - only 3.9% last year. Industry receipts fell by nearly 10% in 2008-2009 - the first time in 20 years. Future growth will have to come from untapped niche segments such as healthcare accounts, legal, cell phone bills, municipal government, and outsourced IRS tax debt.

The study examines industry revenues/growth, competitor profiles/rankings, consumer debt trends and industry issues, extensive operating ratios, etc. Covers national revenues (1987-2010 actual, 2011 estimates, 20012 & 2016 forecasts), latest Census data industry operating ratios. The study examines consumer debt trends, foreclosure trends, bankruptcy trends, the debt buying market, outsourcing, status of IRS tax debt business, major market segments and more.

Contains 49 tables and charts. This report is also sold by chapters. Call for prices.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction: Report Scope, Sources of Information, Methodology

Executive Overview of Major Findings

  • Discussion of major findings, status of the industry, industry structure, nature of the profession, major trends affecting collections agencies, industry receipts: (1987-2010 actual, 2011-2012 est., 2016 forecast) - major competitors' mkt. share, consolidation, collection methods, recovery rates, debt buying, effects of the recession, mkt. segments, commercial vs. consumer accts., new technologies, latest Census ratios, consumer debt trends/other demand indicators, other industry analysts' opinions - highlights of ALL study chapters.

Nature & Status Report of the Industry

  • Definition & characteristics of the business: history & development, Census NAICS codes, how services operate, no. of services nationwide/recent consolidation/mergers
  • Status Report: Number of agencies in U.S., profitability, growth, no. of workers, effect of the recession, etc.
  • Findings/opinion of Kaulkin Ginsberg, ACA trade group, Faulkner & Gray (recent surveys, discussion of major trends)
  • Collection Techniques: discussion of "traditional" collection techniques & how agencies operate (letters, phone calls, legal action, use of operatives), what methods work best, current recovery rates, contingency fees, customer specializations.

FDCPA & Consumer Complaints About Debt Collectors

  • Discussion of major complaints about collection harassment and unethical/illegal practices, privacy issues.
  • Recent legislation/fines by FTC, settlements, new rules
  • Definition and explanation of 1977 Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, history/legislative background
  • State actions by NY Attorney General against collection firms
  • FTC report on FDCPA: act requirements, prohibitions, etc.
  • Types of violations committed by debt collectors, by % of total complaints in 2010, FTC enforcement examples


  • Table: 2010 no. of consumer complaints by type

Major Industry Trends & Factors Affecting Demand

  • Industry placements volume rises but liquidations fall, is this industry recession-proof or even recession-resistant ?
  • Summary: The growth of consumer debt/trends through 2011: (Federal Reserve, BEA, consulting firms data), delinquencies & charge-off rates, foreclosures
  • Bankruptcy trends: personal vs. business, discussion of Chapter 7, 11, 13 types, peak levels and reasons, regional differences
  • Major trends affecting the business - discussion of consolidation, increased consumer debt, emergence of the "debt buying mkt." ($ size, no. of competitors, trade group), outsourcing of collections to India, Web-based applications, call center advances, international expansion, IRS outsourcing, client consolidation, status of debt buying market.
  • Foreclosure trends: foreclosure rates, delinquencies, states with highest rates
  • Findings of latest Kaulkin Ginsberg research/reports
  • Emerging collection technologies - integration of computer/telecommun. systems, pre-authorized draft printing (leading firms, how service works, software vs. service bureau approaches), skip tracing, predictive dialing, check verification & computer databases.


  • Consumer credit outstanding and finance rates: 1992-2011
  • Ratios of debt payments to family income: 1998 to 2007
  • U.S. non-commercial bankruptcies, by type: 1991-2011

Industry Size, Growth, Segments & Forecasts

  • Demand indicators: growth in "placements" value (Amer. Collectors Assn.), limitations of data, opinions, how recession-proof is the business?
  • Comparison of industry receipts estimates by: U.S. Census Bureau, Kaulkin Ginsberg, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Marketdata
  • Effects of the recession on collectability and revenues
  • Growth of leading companies, 2011 vs. 2010
  • Estimated value of consumer, medical, government, communication markets.
  • 2010-2011 performance/growth/rationale, 2016 forecasts: discussion of growth/reasons and contributing factors, opinions of Kaulkin Report, industry competitors, analysts, short and long-term factors affecting demand and growth, weighted sales increase of top competitors.
  • Market segments & niches: consumer vs. commercial accounts, estd. share of industry volume


  • *Industry receipts (1987-2010 Census), Marketdata estimates/projections for 2011 & 2012, 2016 forecasts ($ value, % changes)
  • *Industry receipts by: consumer, healthcare, gov't., telecommun., other (2011)
  • *Debt recovered by collection agencies, by state: $, 2010

Government Tax Debt: A Status Report

  • Findings of PriceWaterhouseCoopers study: amounts referred and collected.
  • In-depth discussion of government tax debt, possible huge new market represented by IRS outsourcing of collections to outside agencies: tax debt, non-tax debt, child support, Treasury Dept. & other programs status as of FY 2010, actual collections
  • Explanation of Treasury Offset Program - FY 2010 results, amounts, child support, cross servicing
  • Objections to outsourcing

Industry Economic Structure & Operating Ratios

  • Findings of past ACA Benchmarking Survey: expenses as % gross revenues, liquidation percentages, cost per acct., acct. size, collections per employee
  • Summary, discussions of: no. of services, annual receipts (2007 vs. 2002), payroll costs, avg. receipts per firm/establishment, legal form of firms, concentration levels for 50 largest firms, single vs. multi-unit operations, services by receipts size of firms & individual estabs., top 10 states (mkt. potential, $ value of receipts), avg. receipts per service, by state
  • 15-year snapshot of the industry - 1992-2007, key ratios.


  • Legal format - corporations, partnerships, proprietorships (no. of estabs., receipts, payroll as % receipts, avg. receipts (2007, 2002, 1997)
  • Concentration ratios: largest 4, 8, 20, 50 firms (no. of estabs., revenues, as % total industry, payroll, no. of workers (2007, 2002, 1997)
  • Single vs. multi-unit firms (1, 2, 3-4, 5-9, 10+ facilities) no. of firms, estabs., receipts, avg. receipts, payroll costs (2007, 2002, 1997)
  • Annual receipts size of FIRMS, measures as above, 11 sales size classes from $100 mill. to under $10,000 (2007, 2002, 1997)
  • Annual receipts size of individual ESTABLISHMENTS, ratios as above, 11 classes: $10+ mill. to under $10,000 (2007, 2002, 1997)
  • State analysis: No. of total adjustment & collection services, receipts, avg. receipts per estab., % of national receipts for 50 states (2007, 2002)
  • Estabs. & receipts, by major city (2007, 1997)

Collection Agency Competitor Profiles

(company overview & business description, products, strategies, recent acquisitions, operations, recent developments, financial summary - 2009-2001 and prior years)

  • NCO Financial Systems (and Outsourcing Solutions Inc.)
  • Encore Capital Group
  • Asset Acceptance Capital
  • iQor (Intellirisk Management)
  • Convergent Resources


  • Largest collection firms, ranked by revenues: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • Top debt buyer companies, ranked by 2008 & 2007 revenues
  • 50 largest firms, by collection agency placements: 2005 (First Detroit ranking)
  • 50 largest collection agencies, by revenues: 2005 (First Detroit ranking)
  • 50 largest collection firms, by no. of branch offices: 2005 (First Detroit ranking)

Reference Directory of Industry Information Sources

  • Name/address/phone/key contacts of credit and collections trade groups, journals, magazines, directories, federal and state agencies, etc.
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