If you thought debt collectors in the United States were bad, wait til you hear some of the horrific stories coming out of Russia these days. The country has been in a terrible recession over the past two years after sanctions over its annexation of Crimea took hold and oil prices dropped. With the economy faltering, unemployment has increased and inflation is driving up the cost of basic necessities.
To top things off, banks have cut many off from being able to borrow, pushing them into the arms of the Russian equivalent of payday loan sharks. According to The New York Times, these companies charge at a rate of 2% a day, or 730% a year. The interest gets out of control fast, and once a debt goes from $100 to thousands, there’s an obvious incentive for violent debt collectors to terrorize debtors into paying up.
With the police doing little to combat aggressive behavior, shocking stories are becoming more and more frequent.
One collection agency robocalled every single phone number to a local children’s hospital in pursuit of one of their employees, effectively blocking the hospital’s phone service. And that’s not even the worst thing they’ve done regarding children — several preschools had to be evacuated after bomb threats levied against the kids of debtors.
Collectors have broken windows, super-glued door locks, and spray painted threatening messages on buildings. They’ve created fliers advertising sexual services with the debtor’s phone number and address. And when this kind of psychological torture doesn’t work, they’ve been known to break bones, kidnap people, and even firebomb homes.
There has been a recent push in Russian parliament to try curb the behavior of these debt collectors, but with the police force seemingly unwilling to enforce existing laws against alleged assailants, it seems like the problem is only going to get worse before it gets better.
(Via The New York Times)