A reality TV show about debt collection is currently being shopped around to networks, according to an article in the New York Daily News. Produced by a reality TV veteran of sorts, the show will feature a small crew confronting debtors.
If red flags aren’t immediately going up, allow me to continue.
The people doing the confronting will be riding around in a hearse with a license plate reading “PAYUPNOW.” Two of the crew will be “tough guys.” The man behind the show previously starred on “JUNKies,” a reality TV show aired on cable network Science that featured dumpster diving. The name of the show is “Dead Beat Busters.”
This is going to be bad; bad for viewers, and certainly bad for the ARM industry.
Notice that I haven’t called these men debt collectors. That’s because they aren’t. The show was the brainchild of a man named Hale Storm (yeah), the one that was previously on JUNKies. He got the idea because his small business typically had to deal with non-paying customers. OK, that seems legit. But he told the Daily News that he had revenge on his mind when he came up with the idea.
So this show will feature three guys rolling around in a hearse with the intention of harassing and shaming debtors into paying. How on Earth are they going to get around the third-party disclosure provisions of the FDCPA?
You know what, it doesn’t matter. Reality TV is fake, after all. But the optics of these guys pursuing debtors is going to be a nightmare for the legitimate debt collection industry.
Our most avid readers might remember our previous coverage of a possible ARM-focused reality TV show. Two years ago, we were contacted by a producer looking to make a show about debt collectors. We got some positive response from our readers, who generally viewed it as an opportunity to shed some light on day-to-day collection operations. The producer asked for some input, and I gave it to him.
But it appears that this is not the same group. After all, would calmly discussing options with a consumer who wants to settle his debt make for good TV? Probably not.
There is a good chance this show won’t get picked up at all. That should help. But the production company behind it also owns an online content distribution network, meaning the show might run online as a web series. There will still be plenty of embarrassment for all.
So brace yourselves, ARM professionals. The industry is about to face a new challenged in the never-ending public relations battle between debtors and legitimate debt collection agencies.