The debt recovery racket

On his show Last Week Tonight focused his attention on the dubious business of debt collection in which people’s debts to some institution are sold cheaply by that institution to agencies that then try and strong-arm people into paying them back, even if the debts have expired. Oliver shows how easy it is to set up a company that can purchase the debts of people.

One of the most common sources of major debt are massive hospital bills, a situation that should not exist in any civilized society. Using his new company, Oliver buys up $15 million worth of hospital debt for just $60,000 and then forgives them all, so at least those people won’t be hounded by creditors.

It is an excellent segment.


  1. Holms says

    I’ve been in that situation. An overdue electricity bill ended up in the hands of a debt collection firm for several years, despite the fact that I had (eventually) paid it off in full. Broadly, there are two ways it could have come about: either the electricity company sold off the debt after recieving it already from me, meaning they knowingly sold on a paid bill as a debt; or they sold the debt and then recieved my payment for a debt they no longer owned. Either way, the electricity company cashed in twice, and the debt collection company persisted for two years in ignoring my evidence. Truly a shady industry in need of strict oversight.

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