Check Out How Occupy Eliminated 15 Million Dollars Of Personal Debt For Americans

Check Out How Occupy Eliminated 15 Million Dollars Of Personal Debt

Occupy Wall Street’s Strike Debt group successfully bought 15 million dollars worth of personal American debt and ‘abolished’ it! Graphic @ IngredientNews

The Occupy movement has slipped from the mainstream American consciousness. Parks are no longer being occupied, large-scale protests on Wall Street have subsided and the loud chants of “We are the 99 percent” have slowly dwindled away. However, this hasn’t stopped Occupy from remaining committed to their message of fighting injustice and their commitment to helping everyday Americans like you and me. Occupy Wall Street created a group called the Strike Debt group. This group’s goal is to help eliminate as much debt as humanly possible. As part of the Rolling Jubilee project Strike Debt has successfully eliminated almost 15 million dollars’ worth of personal American debt. Most of the balances eliminated has been medical debt.

Strike debt has just successfully completely their third debt buy totaling 13.5 million dollars. In a press release the group stated:

“We are pleased to announce that Rolling Jubilee has purchased and abolished two additional portfolios totaling $13.5 million in medical debt, abolishing debt for 2,693 individuals across 45 states and Puerto Rico! These debts ranged from $50 to over $200,000, including several accounts over $100K. These individuals will no longer be hounded into paying this debt.”

Strike debt is able to purchase debt for pennies on the dollar through the “secondary debt market.” When lenders aren’t able to collect their debts, over time they cut their losses and sell the debt to third parties at a fraction of the sum unpaid value. Debt collectors will purchase the debt, at extremely low prices, and harass individual debtors to make a profit. These companies usually try to scare individuals into paying the debt back at full price, unknowing that the company purchased their debt for a fraction of the value. This is what you can consider a legal scam.

Most of the debt “abolished” by the Strike Debt campaign was in medical bills. Obviously, 15 million dollars is a drop in the bucket when it comes to the secondary debt market. Nevertheless, it is great to see true grassroots organizations helping Americans in a substantial way. Individuals who were helped by Strike Debt received letters like this, explaining that they are no longer responsible for their medical debt!

Andrew Ross is a member of Strike Debt and a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University and claims another real achievement is the spread of knowledge. He said,

“Very few people know how cheaply their debts have been bought by collectors. It changes the psychology of the debtor, knowing this. So when you get called up by the debt collector, and you’re being asked to pay the full amount of your debt, you now know that the debt collector has bought your debt very, very cheaply. As cheaply as we bought it. And that gives you moral ammunition to have a different conversation with the debt collector.”

Medical debt is the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the United States. In a recent study by NerdWallet Health three in five bankruptcies, in 2013, will be due to medical bills. This even includes individuals with year round health insurance. As a matter of fact, their analysis concludes that 10 million insured Americans ages 19-64 will not be able to pay their medical bills.

Strike Debt is doing great work in the community, but they can’t tackle the systemic problem of rising healthcare costs. The for-profit healthcare system has spiraled out of control. The fact that people can lose their lively hood to unforeseen ailments should raise a red flag. Healthcare should be considered a right not a privilege. Spreading awareness about out of control medical debt is one of many steps to overhauling the entire for profit healthcare system.

And don’t forget these other articles on Strike Debt: