We can all remember the Oprah Winfrey show when she gave out a brand new car to every member of her audience. “ You get a car, You get a car!” was the phrase she yelled out and it was one of the biggest giveaways in television history. Now John Oliver just topped that. On “Last week Tonight with John Oliver”, they nearly doubled that giveaway. The show uses an investigative journalism approach to its topics and then presents them in a funny way to the audience.
John Oliver showed America just how easy it was for debt collectors to purchase your debt for a fraction of the price and collect it in full from you. Now we all have debt but this episode focused more on medical debt. These are debts that you can not control. You can never put enough money away for a rainy day that can pay for treatments that your insurance company will not cover. The show included interviews with people who were being harassed by collections calls and collectors bragging about their favorite way to collect a debt. Some collectors made threats about killing them, arresting a dog and even coming to their house. Which is all illegal by the way but
The process was simple. Over the internet, they set up a fake collection company, out of Mississippi, and it only cost them $50 to incorporate the business.
“Any idiot can get into it, and I can prove that to you because I’m an idiot and I started a debt buying company and it was disturbingly easy,” Oliver said during the broadcast.
It wasn’t long after the company was up and running that they were offered $14.9 million dollars worth the debt for less than a penny on the dollar. Yes, guys, this means that nearly $15 million in medical debt that was already charged off by hospitals in Texas was sold to this fake company for only $60,000. That is 9,000 accounts with debtors personal information including social security numbers sold off to anyone willing to purchase it.
What made this such a historical episode is that Oliver publicly forgave all the debt live on his show. He partnered with a non-profit called RIP Medical debt. This nonprofit is dedicated to raising money to buy off medical debt and then forgiving it. Since the show, people have been flooding the non-profit site with a donation to help people pay off medical debt.
John Oliver proved his point by showing us how easy it was not only to buy millions of dollars worth the debt for less than the price of a house but also how the industry of debt collection is not regulated at all. In most states you don’t even need a license. You probably file more paperwork trying to pay taxes than you do to purchase this debt.
Written by: Deprina Godboldo, Staff Writer, Modern Domestic