According to Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, U.S. households are seriously delinquent, or more than 90 days late on a total of $436 billion in debt. Unpaid bills from credit cards, predatory lenders, and unexpected medical bills are collectively piling up — and a growing number of collections agencies are snatching them up for pennies on the dollar.
Companies unable to collect on their debts may opt to sell delinquent accounts to whomever is buying, in bulk, and at a fraction of the debt's actual amount. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) performed a four-year study on the debt buying industry, and found buyers paid on average 4.0¢ for every dollar of debt — the older the debt, the less they paid.
In exchange, the buyers received documents with debtors' names, social security numbers, amounts owed, and the right to collect on the total original amount. But buyers often withheld pertinent data from consumers, and did not always receive correct or complete information to begin with, leading them to attempt collections for invalid, expired, or previously resolved debts. The FTC found debt buyers attempted to collect on roughly 1 million disputed accounts each year.
While most news magazine programs would settle for breaking this story in a simple and stunning exposé, John Oliver and his staff took it one step further. After lambasting the unscrupulous tactics of debt purchasers, and the anti-consumerist government policies that make those tactics possible, Oliver ushers the segment into television history in his characteristically elaborate, and unexpectedly expensive fashion. You won't want to miss it!
But be warned: while the video is censored, John Oliver does frequently use strong language for comedic effect. If that doesn't bother you, enjoy the segment below!Whizzco