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What is a Junk Debt Buyer?

Last Updated: July 10, 2017

A junk debt buyer is a collection agency who has purchased a large portfolio of delinquent or charged off accounts from credit card companies, or even other collection agencies. Also referred to in the industry as bad debt buyers, zombie debt collectors, or simply debt buyers, these companies fall under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act definition of Collection Agency. As the visibility and profitability of this rapidly expanding new industry has grown, junk debt buyers range in size from small private businesses up to million dollar publicly traded Wall Street companies! Credit card debt accounts for nearly 70 percent of the accounts sold to JDBs, followed by auto loans, telecommunications debt and retail accounts.

How Do Junk Debt Buyers Operate?

Junk debt buyers generally buy alleged debts for cents on the dollar and then attempt to find ways to collect on the debt. Often times, the debt is "out-of-statute" (That is, the statute of limitations on it has expired and it no longer legally needs to be repaid). The buyer then attempts to get the debtor to pay a small portion of the debt. If the debtor does so, they have reaffirmed the debt and started the statute of limitations over again. It is very important that consumers be aware of their rights and the laws that protect them as an alarmingly large number of these debt buyers are barely operating within the law.

Some typical unacceptable practices by JDBs include pursuing debts that are not actually owned by the consumer in question; harassment or verbal abuse; multiple listings of the same debt; and, as stated previously, attempting to collect a debt that has passed it's statute of limitations. Frequently in these situations, the JDBs will use the practice of re-aging an account which basically means that they report it as more recent than it really is.

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Listing of Common Junk Debt Buyers

The listing below is by no means an exhaustive list of junk debt buyers, but some common names of companies that pursue third-party or junk debts. If you see one of these names listed on your credit report, then you know your debt was sold to a junk debt buyer.

How Much do Junk Debt Buyers Pay for Debt?

* Source: Sean McVity, portfolio broker at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

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