Balancing the Scales of Justice for Pro Se Homeowners

BAD PAPER……Is the Underworld Calling You?

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014

BAD PAPER……Is the Underworld Calling You?

  NPR’s FreshAir host, Terry Gross recently interviewed Jake Halpern (NPR Halpern Interview) about his new book, “BAD PAPER: Chasing Debt from Wall Street to the Underworld” which shares insider details of the debt collection industry in Buffalo, New York, which employs over 5,000 individuals.  Halpern goes into detail, sharing the story of one Aaron Siegel, an ex-banker from Wall Street, who partners with  Brandon Wilson, an “ex-criminal”  in purchasing  bad paper as well as the techniques collectors use to collect on the debt.

While an illuminating and funny story the reality is debt collectors are a nightmare for unsuspecting Americans who don’t know their rights in fighting these bottom feeders.   Ranging from sweet talking individuals to threatening personal injury – Halpern shares how collectors are instructed to “marry” the borrower, then “shake them down”.  Acknowledging there are laws to protect American’s from illegal collection practices, the reality is that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has limited resources to police and enforce those  laws with over 9,600 collection agencies in the United States. (Noting that 42% are 4 people or smaller, so if the debt collector senses trouble is coming, they shut down and then open back up again). So in reality, most of these collectors act with impunity, believing the chances of getting caught are pretty slim.

Halpern’s book doesn’t just stop with the techniques, he took a look at what type of individuals are employed in this industry. Surprisingly, he founcriminald many are one step (or one check) away from poverty themselves; and at times, are ex-criminals. It is the American way to give individuals a “second chance” after they have paid their debt to society; but does that second chance include giving your social security number, home address and banking information to those individuals?

Ultimately the only way to protect yourself from illegal collection practices is to know your rights and hold the stranger calling to following the law.  Halpern’s book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding illegal collection practices and why it is rampant; for the individuals seeking to protect themselves, check out our “Defending Against Illegal Collection Practices” membership and put a stop to harassing collection calls.


Simonee and Desiree

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