The Debt Collectors Are Coming!

A friend of mine recently received a note in the mail that said he was being sued for unpaid debt. I was familiar with this stale old routine in France (where it works similarly), but the indignity of going through it still shocks me. Big banks will provide loans to people who will never be able to pay them back — and all without doing any real background check or research to find out the person’s financial status. My friend was sucked into a black hole without even knowing it. 

Sooner or later, he’ll be in court because he can only pay so much and the bank won’t negotiate in good faith. Debt collection from Bank of America works differently than it does with other banks. Bank of America sends their own people after you, while other big banks sell the debt to a third party and let them come after you.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to settle — it just means the process is a lot more difficult and my friend will probably need to hire a lawyer to square the debt owed. He’s recently out of work because of COVID, he had major health-related expenditures because of COVID, and he’s couch surfing…because of COVID. He called me crying, and it’s not like I don’t understand why. I love this country, but the way it treats its own citizens is heartbreaking sometimes. 

Los Angeles is notorious for its high rent, and my friend is having trouble finding a new roommate. That means he’ll probably have to leave the city and find someplace else to live. He’s worried that it’ll be just as hard to find a job anyplace else, and he’s not sure what financial assistance he’ll be able to find in a different town or state. Nothing is standardized for simplicity’s sake. What’s worse, he knows any wages he earns after he does get a job will be garnished sooner or later if he can’t come to an amicable deal with Bank of America.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to connect him to some of my legal contacts — I haven’t even decided whether or not to enroll in law school and I’m already reaping the rewards! They haven’t been able to sit down with him yet because of the influx of new clients and delayed legal action due to COVID, but it should happen very soon. I’m optimistic they’ll work something out on his behalf.

He’s not. I say he’s pessimistic, but he says he’s “more pragmatic than pessimistic.” I think that’s just another way of saying you’d rather sit on your butt and worry about the future instead of getting off the couch to do something about. I’m sending him dozens of job applications in the mail without a return address. Maybe he’ll think they’re from an angel or something! Hopefully his situation will turn around soon.