In Sunday’s New York Times, Jake Halpern revisited collection agencies. Not the collection agencies you’d normally think of, but the collections agencies that buy old debt and go after it with a vengence, They buy it for pennies on the dollar, use boiler rooms out of movies like … well, Boiler Room, to collect on it, seldom report the payments, resell the debt … as John Oliver showed a few months ago, the cycle never ends.
Halpern points out that President Elect Trump wants to roll back Dodd-Frank. A perhaps unintended consequence of this would be the almost complete unfettering of the collection industry.
With that in mind, we thought a look back at one of our first blog posts would be in order – because some things never go away.
Last Monday a friend of mine received a phone call on his cell phone from an unidentified Rhode Island number. He went to college in Providence, has friends there, answered.
This is what he got – “Hi, Mr. Loman, this is an attempt to collect a debt, anything – yada, yada, yada … can you confirm the last four digits of your social?”
“Is it ‘5555’?”
“Okay, well, I have an account here from Verizon, you owe twelve hundred dollars.”
“I’ve never had a Verizon account.”
“Well, sure, but it could also be from -”
“From any one of the following companies now part of Verizon …” the guy then read off a very long list of companies, a list that pretty much summed up the telephone industry of the 21st Century.
“No,” my friend answered.
“No? Whattaya mean, no?”
“I don’t owe anything to anyone on that list.”
“Says here you do.”
“Then it’s wrong.”
“Look, Biff, I have it right here and -”
My friend has a law degree and a long history of dealing with total BS, so it finally hit him to ask, “Wait a second, what’s the date on this supposed debt?”
The guy on the phone fumbled around, Biff could hear papers being shuffled, murmurs of other voices from the boiler room, then, “Yeah, got it here, 2003.”
“You’re calling me about a twelve year old debt?”
“Well, no, see, we just received it -”
“Yeah, well, then it sucks to be you, have a nice day, don’t ever call again.”