Organizers of the Occupy Wall Street movement this week announced that they are targeting consumer debt using an interesting tactic: they’re going to become debt buyers. But instead of collecting on the accounts, the buyers will simply forgive the debt, leaving consumers a zero balance.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) formally announced the launch of The Rolling Jubilee, a program intended to raise money to purchase consumer debt and then forgive that debt. The program is currently in fundraising stages, but the group said that it has already trialed the practice.
According to OWS, organizers recently purchased $14,000 in face value consumer debt for $500, forgiving the balances on all accounts. The group intends to directly compete with debt buyers and brokers, as noted on one of its organizational web sites:
If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.
The group said that it did plenty of research before making its first move, consulting with attorneys, the IRS, and “moles” within the debt buying industry. The type of debt targeted is not known, but the organizers mention student loans and medical debt quite a bit on their site.
The Rolling Jubilee also created a video to explain the program: