Debt is a common financial problem that affects millions of people around the world. But what happens to debt when it becomes too difficult to repay? Who buys debt and why do they do it?
In this article, we will explain the process of debt buying and selling, the benefits and risks for both parties involved, and how to deal with debt collectors if your debt is sold.
What is Debt Buying and Selling?
Debt buying and selling is a practice where creditors sell their unpaid debts to third-party companies, known as debt buyers, for a fraction of the original amount owed. For example, a credit card company may sell a $10,000 debt for $1,000 to a debt buyer.
The debt buyer then owns the debt and has the right to collect the full amount from the debtor, plus interest and fees. The debt buyer may also resell the debt to another company, creating a chain of debt ownership.
Debt buying and selling is a legal and profitable business that generates billions of dollars in revenue every year. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), debt buyers purchased about $143 billion worth of debts in 2016, paying an average of 4 cents per dollar of debt.
Why Do Creditors Sell Debt?
Creditors sell debt for various reasons, such as:
To reduce the risk of non-payment and bad debt write-offs.
To free up cash flow and resources for their core business activities.
To avoid the hassle and cost of pursuing delinquent accounts.
To comply with regulatory requirements and accounting standards.
Creditors usually sell debt when it becomes delinquent, meaning that the debtor has missed several payments or has stopped paying altogether. The longer a debt remains unpaid, the lower its value and the harder it is to collect.
Why Do Debt Buyers Buy Debt?
Debt buyers buy debt for one main reason: to make money. Debt buyers hope to recover more money from the debtors than they paid for the debt. For example, if a debt buyer pays $1,000 for a $10,000 debt and collects $3,000 from the debtor, they make a profit of $2,000.
Debt buyers use various strategies to collect debt, such as:
Contacting the debtor by phone, mail, email, or text message.
Negotiating a settlement or payment plan with the debtor.
Suing the debtor in court and obtaining a judgment.
Garnishing the debtor’s wages or bank accounts.
Reporting the debt to credit bureaus and affecting the debtor’s credit score.
Debt buyers also have to comply with federal and state laws that regulate debt collection practices, such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, deceptive, or unfair tactics to collect debt, such as:
Harassing or threatening the debtor or their family.
Lying about the amount or status of the debt.
Calling at unreasonable hours or places.
Contacting the debtor after they request in writing to stop communication.
Disclosing the debt to third parties without permission.
How to Deal with Debt Buyers?
If your debt is sold to a debt buyer, you still have rights and options to deal with it. Here are some tips to help you:
Verify the debt. Ask the debt buyer to provide proof that they own your debt and that you owe them money. You have the right to request this information within 30 days of receiving their initial notice.
Know your rights. Familiarize yourself with the FDCPA and your state’s laws on debt collection. If you believe that a debt collector is violating your rights, you can file a complaint with the FTC or your state attorney general’s office.
Negotiate a settlement. If you cannot afford to pay the full amount of your debt, you may be able to negotiate a lower amount with the debt buyer. Be realistic about what you can pay and get everything in writing before making any payments.