John Oliver Covers Debt Collecting on Last Week Tonight, Buys And Forgives $15M in Medical Debt
Yesterday’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver hilariously covered the ridiculousness that is Trump University and Wolf Blitzer stating the obvious, but their main story about debt buyers exposed the realities of debt collection in the United States as a seedy, predatory, and actively horrendous business.
In the 20 minute segment, Oliver covers how frighteningly easy and common debt buying is and how methods of debt collection largely lean towards intimidation, violent threats, and illegal means. Last Week Tonight even sent some people to a convention about debt collecting in Las Vegas, and the clips look like a parody of what we think awful debt collectors are like as they cover collecting debts from individuals who have died and spitefully call the individuals they’re collecting from illiterate.
To show exactly how easy this is, Last Week Tonight started their own debt collecting company appropriately titled CARP, and almost immediately bought about $15 million in out-of-statute medical debt from Texas at about $60,000. CARP had the information (which may just take the form of an Excel spreadsheet) of 9,000 individuals, and could easily proceed to take action in collecting that money without a license. However, Oliver decided to forgive the debt, “because it’s the right thing to do,” and also to beat Oprah at hosting the largest one-time giveaway on television (Oprah previously held this record with a $8 million car giveaway). With a “f*** you Oprah!” Oliver made it rain (with forgiveness).
Last Week Tonight took a similar approach when they covered tax-exempt religious organizations last year by starting his own church, “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.” The church, which was eventually shut down, received a number of donations that Oliver forwarded to Doctors Without Borders.
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