Consumer debt is "basically optional," but debt collectors rely on you not knowing that

Many people are victims of scams and high pressure sales tactics designed to put them in a viscous debt trap by unscrupulous and amoral businesses. Outfits like Rent-to-Own and fly by night used auto dealers prey on the poor and uninformed with EZ Credit specifically meant to put these folks on the debt treadmill. Usury laws meant to protect consumers still allow outrageous interest rates that can be as high as 45%.

Sometimes it’s not about borrowing money at all…I had debt collectors hound us for years after a shady repair company put a lien on my house (without telling us) for supposedly non-payment over a disputed bill. They kept selling the ‘debt’ to collection firms long after we had a lawyer settle the original dispute so these tactics can also be weaponized against those who don’t owe anything at all.


Yes… you’re point being?

Seriously, f**k the lenders. As someone said upthread, TFG got away with it for years.

The banks (or rather the people who work at the banks) don’t care. They’re like: “Meh, write it off.”

As for the harassing collectors, you could just tell them, “Look, Mate. You paid, what, three cents on the dollar? i’ll pay you four cent on the dollar and, voila, you just made 33% on your investment.”


Paying even a small amount is still a bad idea. As the article notes, they’ll just sell the original debt off to someone else who’ll also harass you. And as @KathyPartdeux notes above, that just restarts the clock on the statute of limitations. The collection agencies are slimeball thuggish gamblers and deserve neither your time nor your money.


good point.

I wouldn’t spend large with the intention of not paying (was tempted to, tho, when I finally cancelled my US credit cards). But if I found myself in deep debt due to divorce or medical, I would totally do what I described.

As for the SECOND debt collector who harasses me, I would tell him he missed out. And then go on to describe the sexual acts his Mother, Father, and boss engaged in with me the night before.


Well here is a bank giving away more money than it should tonight in Dublin. What happens? The cops move in to save them from losing cash, and they claim they will fuck your sorry arse up for taking the money they gave you.

Fuck the rich.


These are often the only way that the working poor can have cars and things like furniture, often time. It’s not that people are generally uninformed, most times, it’s that they have pretty much no other options.


Everything is basically optional


The Muppets No GIF by ABC Network

A car is not optional if there is no affordable housing near your job. A house is not optional. A cell phone is really not optional for many people, unable to get access to the internet which means you can’t do basic shit in daily life.



Sorry, was intended as a reply to the headline, not the discussion. Meant more in the “All of this stuff is just systems we made up” way - i.e. capitalism is not a law of nature, we could do things differently way.

And you are of course, correct. It’s weird that the rise of consumer debt tracks neatly with wages being stagnant since the 70s…


Ah. Thanks for clarifying!

neil patrick harris dr horrible GIF




Or just blatantly illegal. Ask me how I know.



Gee, I’m kinda glad I didn’t read the comment thread on this post until just now. It looks like I missed some stuff that would have pissed me off.

In all seriousness, there was a time in my life when I kind of felt like you had to pay your debts always, and if you couldn’t afford something without borrowing money, then you shouldn’t get it. Because when you’re not poor, it’s not that hard to live that way. Then I ended up unemployed for a year and a half, and then working at Walmart for another year and a half, and I got an education in what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings. I wouldn’t recommend that method of shedding one’s privilege, but, in some ways, I am glad I had that experience. I learned that a lot of what I had always believed about people who were poor and struggling was bullshit. It is more expensive to be poor. That seems counterintuitive, but it’s true. So at some point, you end up going into debt. And then it’s even harder to dig your way out. Nobody is poor because they want to be. Nobody is poor because they are lazy. And most people aren’t in debt because they’re irresponsible. Shit happens. And when it knocks you down low enough, it is fucking hard to get out of it. I’m not poor now, but I’m not rich either, and I am one bad day away from being right back where I was 13 years ago. Rich people don’t pay their debts all the time. Hell, half the time that’s how they get rich. Borrow money, use it to make more money, and then game the system to not pay back all the money you borrowed. But try that when you’re poor and you’re a deadbeat.


Sam Vimes has entered the conversation.


That’s true for low-quality consumer products but probably even more true for things like ATM fees and other costs for routine financial transactions that rich people don’t need to pay at all if they’ve got bank accounts that meet a minimum balance.


If you want to derail the process earlier, I highly recommend not giving companies your real name, phone number, address, DOB, or SSN. In the case where this information is “required”, consider providing alternative information: instead of your cell number, provide a phone number that has been disconnected, your office number, or a Google Voice number. For your address: a fake address, PO box, your work address, or the address of a relative who agrees to accept your mail. For your SSN: screw 'em, almost nobody has the right to require your actual SSN.


The U.S. is a minefield of death-spiral financial traps for anyone not in the middle class or higher. And as others have noted, one bad day can put almost anyone smack in the middle of that minefield.


Yes, I literally experienced that with shoes when I worked at Walmart. I needed a new pair of shoes because I was on my feet on a concrete slab for 8 hours every night. But the only shoes I could afford were the cheap ones they sold at Walmart. And they lasted about 6 months and then I had to buy a new pair of shitty shoes.


That’s tough to work out when you need surgery. Hospitals generally require a valid SSN for patients.