Once again, America’s fake news programs are proving to be more beneficial to the nation than their allegedly “real” counterparts. This weekend John Oliver delivered another of his unique, long-form routines that addressed a national travesty that burdens medical patients and their families: The predatory collectors from debt buying operations.
Oliver used facts and humor to describe the rapacious practices of a growing business sector that preys on the most vulnerable members of society. The debt buying industry is known for employing brutal, and often unlawful, methods of collecting money through the use of threats, intimidation, and legal harassment. He then announced his initiative in response to the problem:
“It is pretty clear by now that 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 because I’m an idiot and we started a debt buying company. And it was disturbingly easy.” […however…] “Instead of collecting the money, why not forgive it? Because, on the one hand, it’s obviously the right thing to do, but much more importantly, we’d be staging the largest one-time giveaway in television show history.”
Oliver and his team actually launched a debt buying company called Central Asset Recovery Professionals (CARP). It wasn’t long before they were given the opportunity to buy nearly $15 million of medical debt classified as “out-of-statute,” which is debt that is so old that the debtor can no longer be sued for it. Oliver/CARP paid a mere $60,000 (about half a cent on the dollar) for a portfolio of some 9,000 people with outstanding medical bills.
Next, Oliver sent the receivables to a non-profit organization that specializes in forgiving medical debt with no tax consequences for the debtor. Oliver noted that the largest previous TV giveaway was likely the infamous episode of Oprah Winfrey where she gave everyone in her studio audience a car. This giveaway is nearly twice the value of Oprah’s generosity.
Oliver reminded his audience that his historical gesture would only help the 9,000 people whose debt his company had bought, and that legal reforms and oversight were still needed to protect all consumers from predatory collectors. And with that, Oliver executed his debt forgiveness giveaway with a celebratory cry that “It’s done. I am the new queen of daytime talk.”
All kidding aside, thousands of people will benefit from Oliver’s little comedy show. But as he said, the work isn’t done to fix this horribly broken system. In the meantime, there are other organizations who have been working to achieve the same goals. The one that Oliver used to retire the debt of those on the list he bought is RIP Medical Debt. Another group that does the same thing is Rolling Jubilee, which was created during, and by members of, Occupy Wall Street. These groups have abolished tens of millions of dollars of student and medical debts and deserve our support.
How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.