I find the story about Craig Cunningham very intriguing. His debt collection story was featured in Better Off Deadbeat.
When credit was free flowing, he borrowed over $100,000 and invested in risky stocks and the sub prime mortgage industry. The greedy extension of a well planned credit card arbitrage strategy.
Of course, the recession hit, and now he’s in up to his eyeballs with bill collectors. Except, instead of paying them back, he sues them. And he’s actually quite successful at it; he’s earned settlements totaling more than $20,000.
He’s sues the debt collectors based on violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other consumer protection laws. The debt collectors call him a “credit terrorist” since knows the game and teaches others how to bait the collectors. He’s actually a regular at Fatwallet, and has become somewhat of an expert on suing debt collectors. Here’s an example: Codename47 vs. National Credit Solutions.
I’m all for making money where opportunities present themselves, but I’m also a firm believer in paying back debt.
I’ll stick to making my money with things like the Chase Sapphire $100 Sign Up Bonus and the PerkStreet $50 Sign Up Bonus, which was just extended, in case you missed it the first time around!
What do you think? Credit terrorist or twisted genius?
By the Numbers
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Perhaps he’s a bit of both? Although I think the label “terrorist” is too harsh. But I think what he is doing is for the most part worthwhile and meaningful. A few years back a doctor’s office billed my wife incorrectly. While we were attempting to work with their billing department to settle the dispute, enough time passed that the incorrect bill was automatically forwarded to collections. I can definitely say that after this experience, I definitely consider bill collection agencies to be the “deadbeats”. Sure, they have the unenviable task of trying to recover money from people who haven’t paid, but their tactics all too often include strongarm, underhanded, and deceitful maneuvers. Eventually I had to stay on the phone for an hour with the doctor’s office to get them to discover their mistake and get collections off our back. I was never able to make any headway with the collection agency itself…it was like dealing with a brick wall.
There is a bit of a Robin Hood appeal to Cunningham, the fact that he is one guy standing up to the establishment and beating them at their own game. I do think it would behoove him to use some of his settlement money to make his original lenders whole, but I wouldn’t shed a tear for any of the collection agencies which he harasses along the way.
If they banks got bailed out why shouldn’t he? Your notion of doing “the right thing” is
1) the product of brainwashing by the banks where they manipulate consumers to think they should always do “the right thing” while they do what is best for the marginal and short term interests
2) Hypocrisy, if you were in this guys shoes and were 100,000$ in debt you wouldn’t find way to get out of it? True you probably would never be in this guys shoes because you are so careful, but what if you were in this guys shoes, especially with kids to feed?
3) When has it become more important in our society to pay off your loans and make bankers richer than feed your kids? If that is the equation then there is no question which one is more morally sound.
To me its a case of an immoral person attacking an immoral institution. Sure hes doing something somewhat unscrupulous. But hes doing it to institutions that not only ruined the economy but also continue to do as little as possible to help people in bad circumstances.
If the same man were using these tactics against regular citizens, it would be considered extremely immoral so why not against big institutions? The only difference, as I stated above, is that his targets are even worse in their actions.
Its like Robin Hood stealing from the king, except this time hes taking it for himself.
It’s wrong to avoid paying debt, period. The credit system would collapse & disappear if this became common practice.
On the other hand, collection agencies should be forced to higher standards & scrutinity.
I was a victim of NCS collection agency and their BMG debt collection scam – the same scam referred to on the article. I wasted at least 3 days of my life to get them off my back, for a debt I never had in the first place. They are blatantly stealing money from consumers using bogus debts that never existed. The Internet is full of postings about their scam. It works beautifully for them, they get a bunch of people to pay bogus debts, and for those that fight back, they just back off and move on.
It is our obligation to pay our debt. If we will avoid paying debt the credit system would collapse & disappear if this became common practice.
Maybe that’s not such a bad thing???
This is a tricky situation for me…. I do think he should repay the debt but I do like the idea that the cc companies are having someone stick their fingers up at them…..
He should repay exactly what he borrowed and then sue them, that would make me a little more at ease about the situation.
Overall all it sounds like two bad entities fighting each other… Like Freddie Vs Jason 🙂