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Collection Workers

History

Debt collection is one of the world's oldest vocations. In literature, the most famous—and unsuccessful—attempt to retrieve an overdue debt occurred in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, featuring the character Shylock as the collector. Debt collection also figures prominently in the works of Charles Dickens.

In the past, people who were unable to pay their debts suffered great punishments. Some were sent to prison, indentured as servants or slaves until the amount owed was paid off, or recruited by force to colonize new territories. Today's debtors face less harsh consequences, but the proliferation of credit opportunities has expanded the field of debt collection. Charge accounts are now offered by department stores, banks, credit unions, oil companies, airlines, and other businesses. Many people buy furniture or other expensive items "on time," meaning they place a small sum down and pay off the balance, plus interest, over a certain period of time. People take out mortgages to finance home purchases and auto loans to finance vehicles. The result of all these credit opportunities is that some people take on too much debt and either fail to meet these obligations or refuse to pay them. When creditors do not receive their payments on time, they employ a collection worker to try and recover the money for them.