Debt collection is a growth industry, in Oregon and across the country.

Last year, WW wrote about Daniel Gordon, a lawyer who has filed thousands of Oregon lawsuits on behalf of debt collectors.

Debt collection is

one of Oregon’s—and the nation’s—fastest-growing businesses.

Sophisticated companies buy up portfolios of bad credit-card debt, often

at pennies on the dollar, in a kind of salvage operation.

And Gordon is their hammer.

ILLUSTRATION: Tim Lahan“There’s a lot of

feeling sorry for people who are in debt,” says Gordon, 74, of Eugene.

“I don’t feel very sorry for them. My parents taught me if you can’t

afford something, don’t buy it.”

Sunday's New York Times provided a fascinating look at the business behind the lawsuits—the process of buying, often at pennies or less on the dollar, old debts. 

The scale is breathtaking. From 2006 to 2009, for example, the nation’s

top nine debt buyers purchased almost 90 million consumer accounts with

more than $140 billion in “face value.” And they bought at a steep

discount. On average, they paid just 4.5 cents on the dollar. These debt

buyers collect what they can and then sell the remaining accounts to

other buyers, and so on. Those who trade in such debt call it “paper.”

That was Aaron Siegel’s business.