John Oliver triggered the largest monetary giveaway in television history on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight. After explaining the insanity of the debt-buying industry, the host unveiled his own company, Central Asset Recovery Professionals (CARP), which purchased (and forgave) nearly $15 million of medical debt from over 9,000 people. “Fuck you, Oprah!” Oliver yelled triumphantly. “I am the new Queen of Daytime Talk!”
The host also offered chilling insight into the debt industry throughout the segment. “American households collectively owe over 12 trillion dollars in debt, and right now $436 billion of that debt is seriously delinquent, meaning it’s 90 or more days past due,” he said. “And it is not good if anything is that late. If your baby were three months overdue, you’d effectively just be giving birth to a floppy toddler.”
The largest debt-buying corporation, Encore Capital, claim that 1 in 5 consumers either currently owes or has previously owed them money. “Statistically, that means one member of Evanescence has owed them money,” Oliver cracks.
Many debts are bought and sold in a company-to-company spiral, sometimes leading to horrifying harassment from debt buyers or debt collectors. And occasionally the process creates “zombie debt,” wherein “debt that you thought was dead but starts to take on a whole new life, much like a zombie.”
By creating his own company, Oliver intended to expose the flaws in this corrupt system. “We need much clearer rules and tougher oversight to protect consumers from potentially predatory companies like the one that we set up,” he said.Find out five things we learned from John Oliver.