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Australian Journalist Recounts Her Time as a Debt Collector

Working as a debt collector turned a journalist’s heart into “a cold, hard stone,” she says in a recounting of her time at a collection agency in Australia. The stories, the insults, and the lies “desensitized” her to the point where she lost her empathy for the individuals on the other end of the phone.

The first-person recounting of her time as a debt collector provides some interesting, even if the agency was in Australia. The portfolios she worked led her to most often be calling on powerful males, and as a 23-year-old woman, she says she was not taken as seriously as her two colleagues, who just happened to be “60-something male counterparts who worked the same portfolio.” That lack of seriousness stopped, however, when the journalist “told them legal proceedings may be taken if they didn’t pay by the next business day.” For her, winning was what mattered.

Then they begrudgingly coughed up the cash to me, a woman young enough to be their daughter. There was nothing more satisfying in my work day than receiving an email with a receipt for a payment of $50,000. This went towards my internal target and put me in the running for incentives of up to $1800 a month on top of my normal wage. For me it was a competition, not just a job. I needed to win.

The author talked about the thrill of the skip tracing hunt and how people do not understand how easy it is to find out information about them online, but also the difficulties in contacting the spouses of recently deceased individuals and trying to collect on the departed’s unpaid debts.

“That was the hardest moment of the job for me emotionally,” she wrote. “For the rest of it, I no longer felt a thing.”

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