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John Oliver Just Forgave $15 Million in Medical Debt and Exposed the Debt Buyers Industry


Stashed in: @oprah, Awesome, Healthcare, @iamjohnoliver, Explain Like I'm Five, Push the Red Button!, Personal Finance, Healthcare!, Debt, Credit

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This is great! Did you see last night's show?

So much this:

Why can't someone do this for all the debt out there?

John Oliver, the comedian and host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, dove into an investigation Sunday on how easy it is for predatory companies to purchase peoples’ debt from a bank and hold it over their heads. To demonstrate how easy it was, Oliver bought $15 million of medical debt for pennies on the dollar, and then announced he’d forgive it all.

Oliver called it the “largest one-time giveaway in television history,” trumping Oprah Winfrey’s car giveaway in 2004.

Oliver bought the debt by starting a company online for $50, which he then registered in Mississippi. He called his company Central Asset Recovery Professional, Inc, or CARP, “for the bottom-feeding fish.” Once he set up the company, he said he received an offer to buy $15 million of unpaid medical debt for less than $60,000.

In some instances, a company will purchase debt like this, Oliver explained, then harass the debtors to earn a profit off the collections. In Oliver’s case, the $15 million of debt belonged to 9,000 people, and by the end of his show he stood by a big red button, which once pressed, he said would move the debtors’ information to a nonprofit that forgives medical debt.

“Tonight, at my signal, with the power vested in me as chairman of the board of CARP, they will commence the debt-forgiving process,” Oliver said.

In 2004, Winfrey gave away a car to every member of her audience––“You get a car!” she yelled “You get a car!”––which was all together valued at $8 million. By buying and forgiving this debt, Oliver said the title of most generous host now belonged to him.

Predatory lending:

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