In the current issue of Newsweek, author Gary Rivlin (@grivlin) does a superb job peeling back the curtain and allowing the world to see what really happens behind the scenes in many debt collection operations.
His primary source, Alexis Moore, shares her disturbing first hand account of life as a “desperate for a paycheck”, debt collector. She remarked that “every day I was on the job, I was asked to break the law.” This is because her supervisors overtly forced her to break laws (and rules of decent human civility), if she wanted to keep her job.
Some may argue that she should have just quit. Likely those that would have Alexis tell her boss to “take this job and shove it” have never been a paycheck away from homelessness.
That’s one of the cruel ironies of debt collection abuse. Those doing the abusing are often in desperate situations themselves – financially, or with health issues like drug addiction. Because of their precarious personal situations, they are easily manipulated to do the bidding of deceitful operators.
Some examples of collection practice abuses shared in Mr. Rivlin’s riveting Newsweek story include:
- When someone would hang up, calling back immediately – time after time – until the person answered.
- Informing 3rd parties (this is illegal) such as parents, relatives and neighbors about the money owed and enlisting their support in collections
- Asking neighbors to pin notes on the debtors door, telling them the collector called and that they owe the money
- Threaten foreigners with deportation
- Use vulgarities, like the “F” word, to threaten and intimidate
Unfortunately, the solution is more complex than “there oughta be a law.” There are already plenty of laws, they’re just not policed anywhere near well enough. The real solution is on the supply side. Get banks stop selling their delinquent debt to collection firms who use lawsuits, and other coercive measures to collect, and this abuse of our neediest citizens will stop almost overnight.