On Sunday night, the HBO talk show host John Oliver proved that just about anyone can enter the debt collection business since the industry is currently highly unregulated.
Oliver created a debt-buying agency ironically called the Central Asset Recovery Professionals, or CARP for the fish, for just $50.
“Any idiot can get into it, and I can prove that to you, because I’m an idiot and I started a debt buying company,”
Next, he went to a bank where he was offered a portfolio of $14,922,261.76 worth of medical debt for a mere $60,000.
After having bought the debt, the next step would have been to start calling people and turn their lives upside down until they pay all their debt. Instead, Oliver decided to do something the debt collection industry wouldn’t: he forgave all the debt with a single tap of a huge red button.
The feat also helped Oliver break a television record previously held by Oprah who gave away $8 million to the people attending her show more than a decade ago.
But the comedian didn’t stop to that. He also slammed the industry for their crooked practices while taking advantage of the people who don’t know their legal rights. Oliver even presented an undercover footage showing Debt Buyers Association members making fun of these clueless people.
Because there is almost no regulatory supervision over such businesses, debt collectors are free to harass people and pressure them into paying their debts. Plus, debt-purchasing agencies have access to tremendous amounts of information about the debtors.
The bank gave Oliver names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other sensitive data on nearly 9,000 people who owed the bank money after contracting medical debt.
Oliver deemed the situation “absolutely terrifying” and urged regulators to issue clearer rules.
Americans have currently amassed more than $12 trillion in debt, of which $436 billion is long overdue. This is why, with complicity of the banks a new billion-dollar industry has emerged: the debt collection industry.
These companies buy the right to collect debts from banks, which are the original creditors. Next, they harass people until they pay the debt although their practices often fringe illegality.
The largest debt collection company in the U.S., Encore Capital, claims that 20 percent of Americans either owe or owed it money, according to Oliver.
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