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Last month late-night TV host John Oliver did a show on the debt-buying industry, a facet of our society that many people may not have known about:
“Debt-buying is a grimy business and badly needs more oversight, because as it stands any idiot can get into it. And I can prove that to you because I am an idiot and we started a debt-buying company,” said Oliver. “And it was disturbingly easy.” Last Week Tonight spent about $50 to create a debt-acquisition company in Mississippi. The corporation’s name is Central Asset Recovery Professionals Inc – also known as Carp. According to Oliver, soon after its creation, Carp was offered a portfolio of medical debt worth $14,922,261.76 at a cost of “less than half a cent on a dollar, which is less than $60,000.”
These companies can purchase your debt for pennies on the dollar and start making your life a nightmare trying to collect, which Oliver found offensive and wrong. He caps off the show by forgiving all the nearly 15 million dollars of debt that his “company” bought, passing Oprah Winfrey for the largest one-time giveaway in TV history.
Cheers to John Oliver. We may not always agree with you, but we can always appreciate such a large work of charity… even if it was probably just for the ratings.
UPDATE: An argument is being made that Oliver did not actually “forgive debt” because the debt he purchased had already been written off as deemed “uncollectible” Seems to us the main point of the thing remains, though. “Uncollectible” debt is sold for pennies on the dollar to investors who then can continue to harass people (who are possibly poor and sick people) for the debt that has already been written off. Seems to us a miserable way to make money. For those people who would find themselves on the receiving end of more phone calls demanding money, Oliver’s actions still seems to amount to something good.