Iraq Vet’s $8K Account Forgiven by Debt Buyer
June 25, 2013: Sergeant Jacob Gayer served in the United States Army for nine years, spending some of that time in Iraq. Gayer, who was honorably discharged , had received many honors during his service, including an Iraq Campaign Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Medal, and others.
Like many other men and women who have put their country first by serving in the military, Gayer came home with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Gayer, who has custody of a young daughter, also returned from overseas with a significant amount of debt to be reckoned with, including a balance owed on a credit card that had ballooned from $5,000 to more than $8,000 due to penalties and interest. There was no question the debt was legitimate, but there was no way Sgt. Gayer was going to get his own place to live without first satisfying the judgment on this account.
So he applied for a grant with ARMing Heroes (www.armingheroes.org), the collection industry’s charity for military veterans. Little did he know at that time that there are only two, maybe three, degrees of separation between just about any two people in the industry. So when the grant application was received, within days ARMing Heroes had learned the account was purchased as part of a pool of accounts by a debt buyer, and had already contacted a senior-level executive at the company to discuss the matter and possibly obtain some relief for the veteran. (For readers not in the collection industry, a debt buyer invests in debt by purchasing a pool of delinquent accounts from a creditor for less than the face value of what’s owed and then pursues recovery of amounts legitimately owed.)
After communicating with the debt buyer, several days before the holidays in 2012 the debt buyer contacted ARMing Heroes and explained that they would not offer a settlement to Sgt. Gayer. Doing that would have obligated them to send an IRS Form 1099 upon settlement, forcing Jacob to pay taxes on the difference. So they instead forgave the amount in full because of Jacob’s military service and their desire to help veterans. ARMing Heroes was able to tell this news to Jacob just before Christmas, and sent him a $500 gift card for the family’s use over the holidays.
After his debt was cleared, Sgt. Gayer took the time to ARMing Heroes, saying:
“Your care, concern, and dedication is amazing. The way that you helped me and my daughter is a blessing that is unparalleled to anything that I have experienced in my life. I am just a simple soldier and my lack of words fails me, as I attempt to express the tears that are rolling down my face at this moment. I feel that people should help one another, as you have helped me. I will strive to be worthy of that help. Anytime that I am able I will pay it forward.”
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