Thursday, October 01, 2009

speechless

A note from Jim Hightower this morning:
corporations are even offshoring America's debt collectors. The LA Times reports on a call to a hard-pressed woman in Fort Worth. "Hello, Ma'am, how ya doin' today?" asks the caller in down-home American accent. "My name is James Harold," he says, "and you owe us $11,000." James' name and accent are fakes. His real name is Sharoon Hermoon, and he's sitting in a cubical 8,000 miles away in Islamabad. He's part of a Pakistani crew of a dozen twenty-somethings working on what's called the "deadbeat beat" for Touchstone, a call center owned by a U.S. corporation. These long-distance arm twisters don't merely have accents, they have something else, too: a wealth of personal information on the American people they're dunning. Working for U.S. finance firms, they not only have details of the person's debt, but also things like the person's income and how much they spend. And when debtors don't respond to their calls, the Islamabad center use tracking software to contact the person's co-workers, neighbors, and relatives to apply even more pressure – and embarrassment.

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