While a 20-minute segment about debt buying companies doesn’t exactly sound like a fun Monday morning watch, last night John Oliver and the Last Week Tonight crew found a way to shine a light on an industry that badly needs outside regulation that’s somehow not as soul-crushing as the industry itself. First Oliver sent a Last Week Tonight staffer to a recent debt buyers’ trade group conference to expose the shady, insulting ways these companies treat those in debt, but then Oliver went even further by setting up a debt buying company of his own.
“There are places in this country where you need to fill out less paperwork to start collecting money from people’s pockets than you do to collect fish from a fucking lake,” he explains before revealing that his company “Central Asset Recovery Professionals” purchased almost $15 million in out-of-statute medical debt from 9,000 people in Texas for just $60,000. But Oliver’s company took a very different approach with its newly purchased debts: “We thought instead of collecting on the money, why not forgive it? Because on one hand, obviously it’s the right thing to do, but much more importantly, we’d be staging the largest one-time giveaway in television show history.”