What is CBE Group?

Headquartered in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the CBE Group is one of the largest and most annoying debt collectors in America. If you think they’re bad now, they’ve been in business since 1933.
By Kelvin Wamalwa Written by Kelvin Wamalwa
Updated on August 20, 2023

On its LinkedIn profile, the CBE Group describes itself as: “A global provider of outsourced call center solutions.” In its 158-word “About” section, the CBE Group talks about employing 1,300 individuals and being a top-rated employer. It also considers itself a thought leader and a better solution provider than its competitors. There is no mention of CBE’s actual business—debt collection.

Headquartered in Cedar Falls, Iowa, the CBE Group is one of the largest and most annoying debt collectors in America. If you think they’re bad now, they’ve been in business since 1933. Yes, the CBE Group was collecting debts during the Great Depression.

What is the CBE Group?

The CBE Group is a debt collection agency headquartered in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The CBE Group also maintains offices in Waterloo, Iowa, and Manila, Philippines. 

Is CBE Group a legit business?

Yes. The CBE Group is a legitimate business. They’re debt collectors and debt buyers— a business they’ve been engaging in since 1933.

If you see CBE Group on your credit report even though you never borrowed money from them, it’s because they bought your debt from the original creditor. 

Let’s say, for example, you owe $10,000 on your phone bill for some reason. After missing payments for say, a year, AT&T gives up, writes off your debt as a loss, and moves on. Since most companies don’t like losing money, they’ll try to get what they can for this debt. This is where the CBE Group and companies like it come in. The company might offer AT&T anything from $500 to $1,000 in exchange for the right to collect the $10,000 you owe. 

Such debt is bought in bundles. The debt is sold for pennies on the dollar because you have already defaulted. The odds of you paying are not good. Companies like CBE buy bundles of this defaulted debt and then try to collect as aggressively as they can. 

In your case with a 10,000-dollar default, there could be nine others like you who owe a similar $10,000. If CBE bought the bundle of unpaid phone bills at $500 for each person, they only need two people in the pool to pay for them to break even. Everything above that is pure profit.

Is it true that CBE Group is a debt collector?

The CBE Group is a debt collector. While they buy delinquent debt and try to collect the balance, third parties also contact the company. If you default on your phone bill, rent, medical bills, or credit card, the parties you owe money to might hire the CBE Group to call you and demand the money. If CBE collects the money successfully, they earn a commission. 

What can and can’t debt collection agencies do?

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) limits what a debt collector can and cannot do. The US Congress passed the law in 1978 to prevent harassment and shame tactics. As per the FDCPA, a debt collector cannot:

  • Call you at unreasonable hours (before 8 am and after six pm).
  • Call you twice in a seven-day period after you have a conversation over the debt.
  • Call you at work.
  • Call other people (like employers, friends, or family) in an attempt to shame you into paying.
  • Make threats or use obscene language.
  • Call you directly if you have engaged a lawyer to represent you.
  • Call you after you send them a formal letter asking them not to call you.

The FDCPA protects you from harassment but it doesn’t insulate you from debt repayment. If you refuse to engage with a debt collector, they can still sue you in court and obtain an order to either garnish your wages or confiscate any funds in your savings account. 

Garnishment laws vary from state to state but a debt collector can take as much as a quarter of your paycheck. Texas, Pennsylvania, and the two Carolinas are the only states that expressly forbid wage garnishment.

Have there been complaints regarding the CBE Group?

Yes. The CBE Group has been hit with numerous complaints. The company’s Better Business Bureau page is filled with customers complaining of incessant calls and customers accusing the company of trying to collect nonexistent debt. Many of these complaints have been settled in favor of the customer.

How to stop the CBE Group’s calls?

As per the FDCPA, if you send a formal letter or email to the CBE Group asking them not to call you again, they have to comply. But this doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. They may not be able to call you but they can still sue you. They can obtain court orders to garnish your wages and seize your savings or any sellable assets you might have. 

Generally, it’s better to engage with them and negotiate a repayment plan. Alternatively, if you can afford it, you should hire a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf.