The U.S. Debt Collection Agencies Industry

The U.S. Debt Collection Agencies Industry

This bestseller by Marketdata examines the $15 billion business of debt collection agencies. Complaints by consumers about harassment by collectors still exists and tops the list of complaints to the FTC. Federal and state regulations have reduced recovery rates, resulting in slow growth. However, the Covid-19 pandemic really didn’t hurt this business, as consumers used stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits to pay down their debts in 2020.

Collections is a fragmented business of 3,200 mostly small firms. Industry consolidation continues, and the business has become attractive to investors.

Technology such as artificial intelligence is making firms more efficient. Collections is moving off-shore and the outsourced IRS debt market has grown.

The study examines industry revenues/growth, consumer debt trends and demand factors, extensive operating ratios, etc. Covers national revenues/growth (2002-2017 actual, 2019, 2020, 2021 estimates, 2022 & 2025 forecasts), exhaustive Census data industry operating ratios (national, state, city). The study examines consumer debt and bankruptcy trends, major market segments and more.

Includes a Reference Directory of industry trade associations, magazines, reports and other sources.


A Data Pack report is primarily statistical tables and charts, with moderate analyses and discussions. The report does not contain in-depth competitor profiles or in-depth discussions of industry trends, issues and regulation. Rather, it covers the industry definition, structure, $ size/growth, and key operating ratios and metrics (national & state).

Introduction: Methodology & Sources Used
Nature & Status Report of the Industry
* Definition & characteristics of the business: history & development, Census NAICS codes,
Status of the industry
* List of primary demand factors
* Effects of the Covid-19 pandemic
* Discussion of major complaints about collection harassment and unethical/illegal practices,
privacy issues.
* 2020 findings of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: No. and type of complaints,
compared to 2018.
2020 no. of consumer complaints by type
Demand Factors
* Primary factors affecting demand for services
* Industry status in 2021, discussion of contraction, declining profits, major challenges for firms
* The Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on debt, by population segment (Millennials, Baby Boomers,
Gen X, etc.)
* Bankruptcy trends: personal vs. business, discussion of Chapter 7, 11, 13 types, peak levels
and reasons, regional differences
* Growth of the debt buying market.
Consumer credit outstanding and finance rates: 1998-2021
U.S. non-commercial bankruptcies (Chap. 7, 11, 13): 1991-2020.
Industry Size, Growth, Segments & Forecasts
* Demand indicators: growth in “placements” value (Amer. Collectors Assn.),
limitations of data, opinions, how recession-proof is the business?
* Sources of data on industry receipts estimates by: U.S. Census Bureau, Kaulkin Ginsberg,
ACA, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, IRS, Marketdata
* The role of the IRS and use of PCAs (private collection agencies), 2020 $ amount placed
* Historical industry receipts growth – analysis since early 2000s, Great Recession, aftermath
* Pandemic’s effect on growth: analysis of 2019-2020
* 2021 industry performance – analysis, opinions of Marketdata, Kaulkin Ginsberg
* 2025 forecasts – analysis, opinions of Marketdata, Kaulkin Ginsberg
* Analysis of commercial vs. consumer accts., 2020 $ estimates
* Estimated value of consumer, medical, government, commercial markets - 2020
Industry receipts (2002-2017 Census), Marketdata estimates/projections for 2019, 2020,
2021 and 2025 forecasts ($ value, % changes)
Industry receipts by: consumer, healthcare, gov’t., retail/commercial other accts. (2017)
Industry Economic Structure & Operating Ratios
* Summary, discussion of: Census survey data - no. of services, annual receipts, 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 - 2002-2017, key ratios.
* Snapshot of the industry: 2002, 2007, 2012, 2017 – Estabs., receipts, top 50 mkt. share, etc.
* Payroll as % receipts – 2007, 2012, 2017
* Sales / payroll employee productivity ratios – 2007, 2012, 2017
* Average receipts per estab., no. of employees – 2007, 2012, 2017
* Top 10 states by receipts – 2007 vs. 2019
* Legal format - corporations, partnerships, proprietorships (no. of estabs., receipts, payroll
as % receipts, avg. receipts (2017, 2012)
* Concentration ratios: largest 4, 8, 20, 50 firms (no. of estabs., revenues, as % total industry,
payroll, no. of workers (2017, 2012)
* Single vs. multi-unit firms (1, 2, 3-4, 5-9, 10+ facilities) no. of firms, estabs., receipts, avg.
receipts, payroll costs (2017, 2012)
* Annual receipts size of FIRMS, measures as above, 11 sales size classes from $100 mill. to
under $10,000 (2017, 2012)
* Annual receipts size of individual ESTABLISHMENTS, ratios as above, 11 classes: $10+
mill. to under $10,000 (2017, 2012)
* State analysis: No. of total adjustment & collection services, receipts, avg. receipts per
estab., % of national receipts for 50 states (2019)
* State analysis: No. of total adjustment & collection services, receipts, avg. receipts per
estab., ranked by no. of estabs. (2019)
* Estabs. & receipts, by major city (2017).
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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