Bad Paper

Bad Paper

Chasing Debt From Wall Street to the Underworld

Book - 2014
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The Federal Trade Commission receives more complaints about rogue debt collecting than about any activity besides identity theft. Dramatically and entertainingly, Bad Paper reveals why. It tells the story of Aaron Siegel, a former banking executive, and Brandon Wilson, a former armed robber, who become partners and go in quest of "paper"--the uncollected debts that are sold off by banks for pennies on the dollar. As Aaron and Brandon learn, the world of consumer debt collection is an unregulated shadowland where operators often make unwarranted threats and even collect debts that are not theirs.

Introducing an unforgettable cast of strivers and rogues, Jake Halpern chronicles their lives as they manage high-pressure call centers, hunt for paper in Las Vegas casinos, and meet in parked cars to sell the social security numbers and account information of unsuspecting consumers. He also tracks a "package" of debt that is stolen by unscrupulous collectors, leading to a dramatic showdown with guns in a Buffalo corner store. Along the way, he reveals the human cost of a system that compounds the troubles of hardworking Americans and permits banks to ignore their former customers. The result is a vital expos#65533; that is also a bravura feat of storytelling.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014, ©2014.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780374108236
Characteristics: 240 p. ; 22 cm.


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May 17, 2015

Halpern opens the reader's eyes to the shady business of credit card (and other) debt and how the biggest banks in the country sell uncollected accounts in bulk to, basically, ex-cons and desperate fraudsters. The practice s something that companies like Chase, BofA and Washington Mutual give up on but the sharks don't. It's their bread and butter.
Elizabeth Warren's CFPB has done a lot to crack down on the way poor desperate down-on-their-luck Americans are taken advantage of but, of course, the big boys will do what they have to to roll the program back. The capital of debt collection may have been Buffalo in the past but it will just move to where the hustings are easier - places like Georgia.
A very informative read.

Jan 21, 2015

This is a great book. One important point which needs repeating: it is amazing, on closer scrutiny, just how much debt is really financial fraud, and not really debt at all - - simply another form of bankster thievery. In North America today, virtually any lowlife can claim a citizen owes them money and it financially always seems to fall on the innocent party when it comes to righting the situation. Note how in 01/14, Attorney General of the USA, Eric Holder, is FINALLY addressing the rampant armed robbery by crooked cops around the country illegally under the asset forfeiture laws!

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