Jake Halpern introduces us to a former banking executive and a former armed robber who become partners and go in quest of "paper" - the uncollected debts that are sold off by banks for pennies on the dollar. As Halpern shows, the world of consumer debt collection is a wild and unregulated shadowland, where operators may misrepresent a debtor's situation, make illegal threats, and even lay claim to debts that are not theirs to collect in the first place. Halpern follows his collectors as they intimidate competitors with weapons, manage high-pressure call centers, and scheme new ways to benefit from Americans' debt-industrial complex. He also explores the history of collection agencies and reveals the human cost of a system that leaves hardworking Americans with little opportunity to retire their debts in a reasonable way.
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2014: Everyone knows about collections agencies, but how they actually operate is much more interesting than you probably think. Falling somewhere between Glengarry Glen Ross and Mean Streets, Jake Halpern's Bad Paper introduces us to an economy spanning many shades of gray. Halpern's book tracks the descent of "paper" (spreadsheets containing the information of millions of debtors and their debts) as it's sold for pennies on the dollar by banks and credit companies and passed through a network of collectors. Files are often bought and sold multiple times, each transaction stripping away the best remaining prospects as collectors wring paper dry through all manners of persuasion and coercion. Along the way, Halpern encounters first-hand the game's players, from the financiers at the top of the pyramid to mid-level "brokers" and the ground-level phone-jockeys; these are all hard men within their contexts, as one tale of a Tarantino-grade stand-off over stolen information attests. This book is unexpected, and unexpectedly fun. --Jon ForoAbout the Author:
Jake Halpern is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine, the author of Fame Junkies and Braving Home, and the coauthor of two young adult novels. He is a fellow of Morse College at Yale University. His hour-long radio story "Switched at Birth" is one of This American Life's seven most popular shows ever.
Qarie has narrated over 30 series for the Discovery, Learning Channels & The BBC, as well as providing the inflight programming for Virgin Atlantic Airlines & BBC radio plays. He has voiced over 80 video games for the Playstation & Xbox, and was a guest voice on Comedy Central's Drawn Together. He was made an Associate Artist of The Purple Rose Theatre in 2007.
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