In the current national mood of consumerism, there is a popular belief that debt collection is an assortment of villainous scavengers praying on innocent victims and who contribute nothing to our society and nation. Somehow, however, the good and positive effect of reputable debt collection agencies and lawyers seems to get lost in the bargain!

Recently, the American Collectors Association (ACA) commissioned a study by Ernst & Young to measure the economic effect of the debt collection industry on the American Economy. Here’s the short version:

  • Recovered approximately $55.2 billion in total debt in 2013
    • The five states with the highest total debt collected are
      • New York ($5.4 billion)
      • Texas ($4.9 billion)
      • California ($4.6 billion), Illinois ($2.9 billion) and
      • Florida ($2.7billion)
  • Early out debt, consisting of receivables that aged 90 days or less, represents 29% of all debt collected
  • Bad debt, which accounts for the remaining 71%, consists of receivables aged 90 days or more
  • More than 136,100 employees in the industry (not including debt collection law firms) – thus contributing a positive effect on employment numbers.
  • Third-party debt collection agencies made more than $130.6 million in charitable contributions in 2013.
  • Industry employees spent approximately 1.9 million hours volunteering for causes/activities of their choosing, including nearly 571,600 hours at company sponsored volunteer activities
  • U.S. debt collection agencies were estimated to directly contribute
    • $724 million of federal tax,
    • $400 million of state tax,
    • and $287 million of local tax,
  • for a combined tax impact of more than $1.4 billion. 
  • Taxes attributable to the operations of debt collection agencies’ employees, suppliers, and businesses that sell to employees total over $2.6 billion – approximately 10% of the estimated total economic impact of the debt collection
    • Of the $2.6 billion estimated total tax impact,
      • 51% is estimated to be federal tax (corporate and individual income taxes)
      • and 49% is estimated to be state and local

So next time you hear about the abuses, which are abhorrent to all of us, remember the vast preponderance of debt collection agencies and law firms are not merely operating responsibly and exactly the way you would want them to behave, they’re also going the distance by providing a truly positive benefit to the nation.

For the full study, go to:

Dave Greenberg began his career in commercial collections with Dun and Bradstreet in Seattle, Washington. After spending 8 years with D&B, Dave took a position with ABC-Amega Inc. Over a 32-year span, he vastly expanded their international department and became an industry leader in the commercial-international niche sector. He was a Past President of the California Commercial Collection Association, on the panel of commercial arbitrators for the American Arbitration Association, and the Council of Better Business Bureaus, while also remaining active in the US Air Force Reserve.

He is a co-author for both FCIB and ICTF for their online credentialing courses for international credit management offered through Michigan State University and Thunderbird School of Global Management. Over the decades, Dave traveled the world, providing speaking engagements to credit grantors from Cyprus to Germany to China. He currently serves as Legal Liaison with the Law Offices of Gary A. Bemis.

Dave is also an author of children’s books and, along with his wife, recently moved to California to be closer to their grandson.


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