Occupy Wall Street activists buy up Americans’ personal debt – Rolling Jubilee

(Agence France-Presse, December 1, 2013)
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The idea? Buy up the personal debt of those who are struggling to fulfill their basic needs, like health care or housing. . . . For the New York-based group’s first anniversary, it announced this month that in one fell swoop it had bought up the equivalent of nearly $13.5 million in medical debt that some 2,693 people owed to hospitals and medical offices. . . . The group purchased the debt for only $400,000 — mainly paid for by small donations made to the organization over the Internet. . . . In the United States, when a bill is not paid within 90 days, a bank can attempt to reduce its losses by selling the loan at a discounted price to professional debt buyers. These are then resold on a secondary debt market. . . . On its website, Rolling Jubilee says that “banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors.” . . . According to Strike Debt member Ann Larson, “for every dollar of debt we abolish, we paid only two cents.” . . . The group has no idea whose debt it was purchasing: sales are made anonymously and it’s not until the end of the transaction that Strike Debt has access to the addresses to which it will send letters, such as the one it mailed to Logsdon. . . . Medical bills are one of the leading causes of personal bankruptcy in the United States. . . . In 2013, one in five Americans will have struggled paying medical bills and more than 35 million people will be contacted by debt collectors, according to a study by NerdWallet, a company specializing in personal finance and credit options.

ALSO SEE:  Rolling Jubilee Web Site

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