Forty four people received the following letter, sent out by Rolling Jubilee, a project of StrikeDebt. It informs them that a particular piece of medical debt each of them owed has gone "Poof!", all together retiring more than $100,000 in unpaid bills.
That's an average of $2273 per individual that is no longer owed, that no debt collector will be calling for, making threatening noises over the phone, or coming a callin', or perhaps even causing the individual to to go jail.
Original Creditor: xxxxxxThe actual amount of debt purchased was about $101,000, and the purchase price was $5,000. So the stated 20:1 leveraging that Rolling Jubilee claimed was possible was actually exceeded!
Patient ID: xxxxxx
Rolling Jubilee Acct : xxx
Original Balance: $xxx
Balance Due: $0.00
Dear Ms. Doe,
Season's Greetings from Strike Debt!
We write with good news: the above referenced account has been purchased by The
Rolling Jubilee Fund, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization. The Rolling Jubilee Fund is a project of Strike Debt. The mission of this project is to buy and abolish personal debt. We believe that no one should have to go into debt for the basic things in our lives, like healthcare, housing, and education.
You no longer owe the balance of this debt. It is gone, a gift with no strings attached. You are no longer under any obligation to settle this account with the original creditor, the bill collector, or anyone else...
The Rolling Jubilee has now raised almost 485,000, enough to retire almost $9,700,000 in debt, and they will soon hit $500,000 and $10,000,000 respectively. According to their last update
We are currently arranging the purchase of more medical debt, possibly worth several million dollars. This will be announced in late January or early February in tandem with a report on the role of debt in our dysfunctional healthcare system.The letter also comes with a FAQ, in case the recipient believes this is too good to be true. (And let's face it, if you got such a letter, what would you think?)
What is Strike Debt?Politicians you elected are now deciding whether to put you further in debt by raising your taxes and cutting your Social Security benefits. Contrast this to New York City Occupiers and their allies who have worked long and hard to make this project a reality, and with its success have succeeded in calling attention to the absurd burden debts are imposing on the least well off among us while benefiting those who are most well off. (Not to mention organizing a vast and efficient relief effort mitigating the effects of Hurricane Sandy while NGO's and the government fiddled.)
Strike Debt is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street. First started in New York City, but inspired by movements around the globe, Strike Debt now has affiliates across the country. We believe people should not go into debt for basic necessities like education, healthcare and housing...
What is Rolling Jubilee?
Rolling Jubilee is a project of Strike Debt. It is a bailout of the people by the people. Heres how it works: banks and other creditors sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers, who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it.
Are There Any Strings Attached?
No, this is a gift. There are no expectations from the debtors whose debt we have abolished.
Do I Have to Pay Taxes on This Debt?
The Rolling Jubilee was created in consultation with a team of attorneys. They have thoroughly researched the tax implications and do not believe that beneficiaries are obligated to pay taxes on debts the Rolling Jubilee abolishes in this manner. It is the Rolling Jubilee's position that it is making a tax-free gift to the people whose debt it is abolishing. You shouldn't run into any issues with the IRS concerning this debt and can contact us in the unlikely event that you do.
Perhaps we should move Congress to Zuccotti Park for the winter and let Occupiers pass some laws in Washington DC (even if many of them would shudder at the thought).
Earlier diaries on the Rolling Jubilee: