Credit Card Companies Using Violence To Collect Debt Overseas?

A recent report about an Indonesian man who was allegedly beaten to death after failing to pay back $12,000 in credit card debt is yet another reminder of what state American debtors could be in if it were not for the hard fought laws protecting the indebted.

On March 29, Mr. Octa traveled to Citi’s local offices where, police allege, he was brutally beaten by debt collectors. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital… After dropping his younger daughter at school, Octa walked into Citibank’s credit card collection department on the fifth floor of the Jamsostek tower just after 10 a.m. Four hours later, he left the 25-story building slumped motionless in a wheelchair — a victim of what police allege was a violent assault by debt collectors. Driven to a nearby hospital in a Citibank car, Octa was pronounced dead on arrival.

For its part, Citibank has insisted that it does not condone using violence to collect delinquent debt. The credit card company has also offered to cover all the living expenses and educational costs for the deceased man’s family. However, the fact that such violence is not only probable in countries where credit card companies are increasingly doing business; but that it is considered just a part of operating, is shocking and appalling.  We need to ask ourselves, what measures should credit card companies put in place to protect debtors in developing foreign nations?

If we follow the trends of banking, more citizens in developing countries will have access to consumer credit cards, increasing the chances of personal debt in countries which often don’t have bankruptcy courts or other ways to discharge debt. Credit card companies should take the initiative and have debt forgiveness programs for those debtors in developing countries who truly cannot repay.

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