Publicity

Why I wrote this book

The Major Characters

Interesting Stats

The Lingo of Debt Collectors


 

Bad Paper
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux: October, 2014)

A trip to the underworld of debt collection, where bankers team up with ex-burglars and few rules apply.

 Bad Paper is a riveting exposé, a moving story of an unlikely friendship, and a gritty narrative of how scrappy entrepreneurs profit from our debts. 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. It is a realm of indelible individuals who possess a swagger and vocabulary that even David Mamet could not invent. Halpern follows his collectors as they intimidate competitors with weapons, manage high-pressure call centers, and scheme new ways to benefit from American’s 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. The result is a bravura work of storytelling that is also an important consciousness-raiser.