20 years ago

May 1, 2008

Debt collectors may not be the most popular people in the world but those employed to gather in delinquent loan repayments from American students seem to be happy in their work. Last week, the latest tricks of the trade were revealed at a "Default Management Conference" in Florida. From this it emerged that hot pink is the favourite colour for demand notices this year. "An aggressive colour," said its advocates, "it solicits action."

Other ploys are more subtle, like the letter designed to look as though a cheque is peeking through the plastic window in the envelope. Nor are the collectors averse to causing a little family strife. Michael Fox of the South Carolina Student Loan Corporation told the conference that he had taken to confiscating the state income tax refunds of delinquent students' parents. "Little Johnny calls back and wants to know how he can get mummy and daddy's tax refund back," he said with glee. "The answer is, he can't."

Mr Fox, who is probably kind to dumb animals, is a man who enjoys his work. Most of all he likes taking student debtors to court. "I enjoy litigation," he said. "It's a lot of fun."

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