A collection agency is a business that pursues payments on debts owed by individuals or businesses. Many of them are very ruthless in collecting debts, and will not shy away from legal threats and other types of harassment.
Note that the debt might not be originally owed to the collection agency - very often these sort of organisations buy debts from the original creditor at a substantial discount and then rely on their ability to recover the full amount (plus extra charges in most cases) from the debtor. The first the debtor knows about the agency may be when they turn up on his doorstep. And this is a lot older than you think.
Game and Story Use
- Any modern-day adventurer who ends up with a financial debt (and such adventurers often have unexpected expenditures…) might have to deal with one of those. After several weeks of dealing with those, he will wish for an enemy that he can shoot.
- Of course, some players may regard debt collectors as people they can shoot. This may lead to the hasty planning of unexpected adventures.
- In the early modern period, this may not be far off - Patrick O'Brien's Jack Aubrey spends several books being pursued by debt collectors, who suffer a variety of fates including being beaten up and thrown in the sea by his sailors and, in one instance, press-ganged into the Navy.
- Player characters might also inherit a debt from a relative. They might not be legally obligated to pay for that debt, but that won't stop the agency from claiming otherwise (see the Phillips & Cohen link).
- Even more annoyingly, they may inherit a mistaken debt - this is quite a common problem for people who buy repossessed houses at auction and find credit reference agencies unwilling to believe that they aren't the previous occupant under another name, but happening to share a name or a similar National Insurance number or somesuch can also be a problem. One small typo and the baliffs are suddenly following you.
- You can also meet these people (or set them on someone else) as a result of identity theft.
- Finally, in many horror and disaster movies there's a type of victim of the menace where the audience says: "OK, that was nasty, but it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy." Members of a collection agency certainly qualify.
- Debt collection and skip tracing both make good jobs for PCs
- Not all debts are financial in nature, though sometimes we wish that they were.
- A PC runs afoul of a contractual debt with a supernatural being who employs similarly supernatural collection agents.
- In the past, a PC's life was saved by a friend and, now, said friend has come calling to collect on that debt.