Banks and money lenders, when unable to collect a debt, sell that debt onto a debt collecting company for a fraction of the value and the third party then attempt to recoup the debt from the debtor and make a profit.
Using this information, an ingenious group calling themselves Rolling Jubilee set out to raise £50,000 which would buy $1m worth of debt.
The amount they actually raised was $400,000 which allowed them to but $15m of Americans' personal debt over the last year, relieving 2,693 of medical debts.
Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy's Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012. The group purchases personal debt cheaply from banks before abolishing it and freeing individuals from their bills.
'Our purpose in doing this, aside from helping some people along the way – there's certainly many, many people who are very thankful that their debts are abolished – our primary purpose was to spread information about the workings of this secondary debt market' said a spokesman for the group, 'No one should have to go into debt or bankruptcy because they get sick'.
Great news on many counts, not least it has helped 2,693 people so far but maybe when the debt collectors come knocking, because of this knowledge, a few more people may be able to negotiate a better deal to pay off what the debt collector paid and not the full amount of the original debt.