A group of campaigners linked to the Occupy Wall Street movement has raised enough cash to write-off $5m in “distressed” student loans and outstanding medical bills.
The campaigners founded the Rolling Jubilee project to buy-up distressed loans, where repayments are in arrears, for pennies in the pound and then cancel them free of charge to “liberate debtors at random”. That debt will include large amounts of student loans and oustanding medical bills owed by people struggling to meet repayments.
Individuals or companies can buy debt from lenders at knock-down prices if it the borrower is in default or behind with payments and are then free to do with it as they see fit, including cancelling it free of charge.
Campaigners estimate that 77pc of American households are in debt and that 62pc of all bankrupcies in the country are caused by large medical bills, which can be virtually impossible to pay for those without insurance. An estimated one in seven people in the US is currently being pursued by a debt collector.
As a test run the group spent $500 on distressed debt, buying $14,000 worth of outstanding loans and pardoning the debtors. They also consulted lawyers on the legality of doing this on a large scale.
Yesterday they launched a fundraising campaign with a variety show and telethon in New York and have already raised $269,913 (£170,206) – enough to buy over $5m worth of debt and write it off.
Strike Debt, a campaign group behind the project, said that it had no way of targetting which person’s debt they were buying: “Anonymous accounts get bundled together by other firms and sold as a whole. We have no input into whose debt is included.
“We hope to buy as much debt as we can and, more fundamentally, to get people asking why it is that debt can be so cheap to everyone except the debtor. Remember: you are not a loan, and you are not alone.”
- Occupy Wall Street campaigners buy-up debt to abolish it (todayonline.com)
- The Rolling Jubilee: Occupy Wall Street Campaigners Buy-up Debt To Abolish It (americankabuki.blogspot.com)
- Occupy Wall Street campaigners buy-up debt to abolish it (telegraph.co.uk)
- Damn Dirty Hippies (desertdogmeh.wordpress.com)
- The Rolling Jubilee: Group spends $500 on distressed debt, buys out $14,000 worth of outstanding loans (sott.net)
- Occupy Wall Street Launches ‘Rolling Jubilee’ To Buy Up And Forgive Debt (thinkprogress.org)
- The People’s Bailout: Occupy is forgiving personal debt (kottke.org)
- Occupiers’ Next Move Is To Bail Out Consumers (huffingtonpost.com)
- OWS’ Rolling Jubilee Seeks to Buy and Forgive Debt (news.firedoglake.com)