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"I need my money. And I will find your sister, your daughter, whoever this Miss Deborah Gordon is, and I will find her and I will find you. And I will f--- you up. Goodbye."
Typical call from a "nice" debt collector

A trope about that most revered and respected of all professions, the debt collector. They have a proud reputation for being nasty, lazy thugs who think the law is a suggestion and will stoop to no low in order to shake some money out of their "customers." Their stereotypical nature is often the butt of many jokes. Note that for the sake of examples, tax collectors are also included. The most common alignment for this trope is Neutral Evil.

This is one of the tropes that gave birth to Dastardly Whiplash.

Related to Loan Shark. Older Than Feudalism. A form of Acceptable Professional Targets.

Examples of Evil Debt Collector include:

Anime & Manga

  • In Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, Kafuka Fuura's father was driven to suicide by debt collectors.
  • The prime reason that Allen Walker of D.Gray-man became so good at cheating at cards was to deal with constant harrasment by debt collectors as the result of being stuck with General Cross' gambling debts.
  • In Liar Game, after the end of the first round, debt collectors would come to gather the 100 million yen. And if you didn't have it, well ...
  • In Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure , a villain's Stand (sort of psychic projection) has the power to "collect debts" by reading the opponent minds to know where they keep any money or valuables. If nothing else is available, it will remove organs to sell on the black market. While collecting, it's totally invulnerable (that is sort of a Game Breaker in the manga, if only you could not unsummon it by beating his master).
  • The thuggish debt collector in Stepping on Roses (Hadashi de Bara wo Fume) is a prime example. In his attempt to collect a debt incurred by her older brother from protagonist Sumi, he initially offers to let her Work Off the Debt by paying with her body. When she refuses, he later returns and kidnaps Sumi's younger siblings, threatening to sell them off to a foreign country if he didn't have his money by the following day.
  • Averted in Durarara. Tom works as a debt collector but is generally a very nice and laid back guy. He hires Shizuo as his bodyguard and enforcer, but he would rather just use Shizuo's fearsome reputation to scare debtors into paying on time and only uses violence as a last resort.


Comicbooks

  • Never borrow so much as a nickle from Scrooge McDuck! You'd get off easier selling your soul to the devil.
    • From the same Verse, the usually nameless thugs after Donald Duck. Barks apparently based his portrayal of these on his own experience with debt collectors as a struggling young artist...There was also a story (where this page's image comes from) where Donald is hypnotized into believing he's one. Hilarity Ensues...For real.
  • Batman villain the Tally Man is this trope turned full on psychotic.


Films -- Animated

  • In the Disney version of Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham played this trope by collecting harsh, unnecessary taxes for the greedy Prince John. Despite saying he was just doing his duty, the crooked lawman crossed lines by taking money that was hidden in the cast of a man's broken leg (even beating on it to get the last coin out), stealing a child's birthday gift that was a coin (Of the lowest denomination in existence in that time period), robbing a blind beggar, even taking the only coin from the church's poor box.
    • The last crosses the line from cruel to outright illegal when you consider the fact that the crown didn't have the authority to tax the church at all at that point in history. It was a major political hot topic for centuries.


Films -- Live-Action

  • The villain in Confessions of a Shopaholic is a debt collector who goes as far as to humiliate the hero on national television in order to collect (illegal).
  • In the Mickey Rooney movie Quicksand, the appearance of one of these accelerates the downward spiral of the hero, since he threatens to have the young fellow jailed for fraud unless he pays all the money on an installment plan watch within 24 hours.
  • Averted with taxman Harold Crick in Stranger Than Fiction, who is the hero of the story.
  • In Grandma's Boy, the lead character is threatened by debt collecters.

  "If you not out in five minute, my frien' here, remove your testicles. Through you' anus."

  • The titular Repo men of Repo! The Genetic Opera repossess your organs if you fail to make your payments to Gene co
  • I don't remember the exact quote, but from Babe: Pig in the City we had this:

  "And then, two men came to the farm. They were men from a place that felt no love or compassion for anyone: the bank."

  • In Suicide Kings, it is eventually revealed that the two kidnappers are debt collectors for a Loan Shark, and that the kidnapping is simply a means to allow the debtor to get the money from their family. Who that debtor is becomes the film's central mystery.
  • Jabba the Hutt's main role in Star Wars is as a debt collector (it is his main motive for pursuing Han Solo); his other activities as an organized crime lord go unmentioned but heavily implied.
  • Rocky Balboa's primary occupation at the very beginning of the Rocky series. The 'evil' part is averted when Rocky actually attempts to use reason and compassion in dealing with a debtor (and in keeping Paulie from going into the business).


Literature


Live-Action TV

  • In Doctor Who serial The Sun Makers, far-future Pluto is governed by a monstrous tax collector (literally: he turns into some kind of fungus at the end) and his greedy lackies, who subjugate the human colonists through providing them with access to an artificial sun -- for which they are taxed into poverty and starvation.
  • In a rare example of the Evil Debt Collector as the protagonist, the Trailer Park Boys were forced into this role to pay off a veterinarian for treating a sick dog Julian was taking care of, along with treating one of Ricky's gunshot wounds. To pay their bill, Ricky and Julian had to steal a riding mower belonging to another one of the vet's customers who owed him a lot of money.
  • Subverted in Corner Gas where the tax man (who keeps insisting he's "A tax man, not THE tax man") is not evil at all but friendly, reasonable and will not hesitate to give useful tax break info that benefits those who treat him nicely. Which is amazing considering he has to deal all day long with people like Oscar.
  • Some of the marks in Leverage are essentially Evil Debt Collectors.


Music

  • "Taxman", by The Beatles.
    • I'll tax your tropes!
  • "Repo Man" by The Coup.


Newspaper Comics


Professional Wrestling

  • A professional wrestling example of an evil tax collector was Irwin R. Schyster (IRS) from the WWE (early-mid 1990s, back when it was known as the WWF). Of course he was a heel. Part of the famous tag team Money Incorporated with Ted DiBiase. This team was known for its prowess as technical wrestlers.
  • About the same time, in WWE there also was the Repo Man (Barry Darsow) who was the embodiment of this trope.
  • Inverted in 1990, when the Big Boss Man (Ray Traylor) refused to reposess Ted DiBiases Million Dollar Belt, because he wouldn't take a pay-off.


Videogames

  • Parodied in the Animal Crossing series multiple times, including a joke about sending goons if you don't make a payment in a week.
  • The plot line of Pikmin 2 involves the president of Olimar's company running from debt collectors after taking a loan from the wrong bank.
  • One of the early-mid game books (Timid Teacher book 2, I think) in Persona 4 involves a man trying to deal with psycho debt collectors.
  • The Sims 2 has the Repo Man, who comes if you blow off paying the bills too long. He's the one character you can't even cheat code your way around. He shows up with a vacuum that sucks up all your stuff and his appearance is an automatic bad memory for your Sims.
    • On the The Sims 3 you can actually erase the Repo Man just fine.
  • Europa Universalis 2 features an opportunity for a player to be this. Give the AI a short-term loan. Wait until AI refuses to repay. You get a free casus belli.
  • Niko in the 4th Grand Theft Auto is sold out to debt collectors.
  • The Big Bad of Axel's story in Disgaea 2 Cursed Memories is an evil repo man out to destroy an orphanage. This scumbag even holds Axel's little brother hostage. This leads to a Crowning Moment of Awesome for Axel.
  • This happens to O'aka in Final Fantasy X-2, after he ends up heavily in debt to some Al Bhed. Yuna and the Gullwings can help him by buying enough of his merchandise so he has the money to pay off his loans.
  • Turned Up to Eleven in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. Word of God reveals that it was Lord Gordain who created the original Nonary Game as away of both getting rid of his debtors in a ridiculously brutal manner and to provide entertainment to other billionares.
  • World of Warcraft has several quest lines where you are asked to go collect debts from a series of deadbeats who refuse to repay their dues to the quest giver. A few of those deadbeats are actually dead and you have to beat up their ghosts for the money. There is no escaping your credit record in Azeroth.
  • The 'plot' of the Three Stooges video game is that the Stooges have 30 days to raise enough money to save an orphanage from being closed down by I. Fleecem, who's appearences are punctuated with an Evil Laugh. If you bump into Fleecem during the game, he'll take away some of your money.


Western Animation

  • Played for laughs in the Rocko's Modern Life cartoon Who Gives A Buck after Rocko gets a credit card. He picks up the phone and receives the standard collection call.
  • Cow and Chicken uses a similar joke to Who Gives A Buck with the red guy as the debt collector.
  • Pete plays one in the Classic Disney Short "Moving Day" (1936), playing the bullying sheriff planning to evict Mickey and Donald and sell all their furniture.
  • The Vreedle Brothers are Repo Men on Ben 10 Alien Force, sent to get Ship.
  • Even Scrooge McDuck isn't immune to this trope. One episode of DuckTales had the protagonists suffering from their worst nightmares. Scrooge's worst fear is debt collectors taking away everything he owns, even to the point of trying to take away Huey, Dewey and Louie.


Webcomics

  • In The Word Weary, Stan Becks is a debt collector with a fictional company. He calls Elly and tells her (wrongly) she has pay beck her recently deceased mother's credit card debt, crippling her financially. This trope is played with in that Stan himself doesn't really appear to be evil, just forced into it to save his job.


Real Life

  • Throughout ancient history, private groups would pay governments the debt of certain areas, and would then try to regain the money by charging the actual citizens their taxes. This caused a lot of strife, as many were extremely greedy, and tried to make as much money from the populace as possible. This is why most current governments now have their own tax collectors.
  • A reporter infiltrated the debt collection industry and found that breaking the law is standard operation proceedure. http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2010/09/07/secrets-of-the-debt-collection-biz-uncovered-by-a-reporter/
  • Unfortunately, Truth in Television. Debt collectors are the number 1 industry in terms of complaints to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The stories about their strong-arm tactics are the stuff of legends. They recently caused a man's death when they mocked the events relating to his hospitalization (the helicopter flight to the hospital incident). Note that said scumbag mocked the circumstances of the victim's heart attack in the same call. The video also has typical calls from debt collectors.
  • The problem of the Loan Shark industry. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7]
  • One of the most infamous real-life examples is Pressler & Pressler, known for strong-arm tactics including illegal account freezing and using Wikipedia as evidence in court. New Jersey's attorney general eventually cracked down on them hard in 2009. There was a special about them in ABC News in autumn 2008.
  • Debt collector complaints for the first half of 2009 are up 20% from the same time last year. CBS News has a video. As much as some people say it's the exception, statistics paint another picture. Note that there was also a massive spike in complaints in 2008 compared to 2007, so this seems to be more of a problem in recessions.
  • Based on testimony from former employees, Wachovia (its auto loan department, especially) ignores the FDCPA as standard corporate policy. Link.
    • Which they are allowed to do because "campaign contributions" (read:bribes) resulted in the FDCPA having an exemption for internal departments of banks.
      • To make things clear, the "FDCPA" is the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the series of laws that govern the practice of debt collections. And to be fair, as someone who works as a debt collector (who specializes in defaulted student loans), I can tell you that at least the company I work for takes these laws VERY seriously.
  • They also resort to physical violence to collect, as a pair of them tried to forcibly remove a young woman from her car and slugged her with her daughter watching in horror. She went Mama Bear on their asses. Link
  • In Mexico with the latest crisis not getting any better, there have been a series of scandals, as many bank debt collectors have started using more abusive practices to make people pay, a huge number even illegal. They aren't authorized to call you too early in the morning or too late at night, it's forbidden for the caller to use disrespectful, rude or abusive language. They cannot show up at your house and scream at you through the window to pay, and so on. People are getting these calls even if they just forgot to pay on time over the month, no matter if they have actually paid on time until then. And sometimes they harass people who owe nothing but got the bad luck of having their number given by another person. http://www.zocalo.com.mx/seccion/articulo/cobradores-acoso-ilegal (it's on spanish though).
  • They are one of the most hated professions out there. Very rarely are they not utter monsters. Its a very bad sign when the level of hatred and rancor directed against them rivals the hatred directed at Marona and is (unlike example mentioned) 100% justified. They aren't on The Scrappy page for nothing.
  • The source of the page quote.
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