John Oliver Bought $15 Million in Debt and Beat Oprah's TV Record

What have you done lately?

John Oliver has made a habit of taking on some of America's shadier industries in his weekly long segment. He's especially concerned with the rotting underbelly of the financial services business: payday loans and predatory lending, state-run lotteries, and now, debt collection.

In a nutshell, delinquent American debt has spawned an entire industry of what's called "debt buying," where a collection agency (or many) buys a consumer's debt from a bank or credit card company for a cut price, then sets about the honorable work of harassing and intimidating them until they pay up—even if that debt was previously settled.

Throughout the segment, Oliver continually calls for "more oversight" of the industry and "more protection for consumers." Clearly, the FTC and other longstanding government regulatory tools have proved insufficient in dealing with collection industry tactics, both legal and illegal, which is why, in 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established. 

Unfortunately, the Bureau (which oversees banks and credit unions, securities firms, mortgages and foreclosures, payday lenders, and debt collectors) has faced almost constant opposition from Republicans in Congress. They blocked President Obama from appointing a director to run the CFPB for two years, and Democrats have accused (opens in new tab) them of trying to gut the agency through the budget process. Republicans, for their part, say the agency has become "unaccountable."

Isn't this segment an indication that the CFPB needs more regulatory clout, not less?

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