Thursday, January 28, 2010

Buffalo's Economic Boom

Yeah, this is a healthy sign of a sustainable economy.

"Collection agencies skirt law in Buffalo; Economic bright spot has dark side" by Carolyn Thompson and David B. Caruso, Associated Press | January 10, 2010

BUFFALO - When Tobias “Bags of Money’’ Boyland went looking for a new career after serving 13 years in prison for armed robbery and drug dealing, he quickly found something that suited his sensibilities: He opened a collection agency.

It was, in some ways, a natural move for a young man in Buffalo. Desperate for jobs, this chronically depressed Rust Belt city has become home to one of the biggest concentrations of debt collection businesses in the United States. “Collections is the Bethlehem Steel of Buffalo,’’ said Boyland, 44, recalling the industrial giant that once employed 20,000 people in the region. “You can make a decent living in a town where there isn’t a lot of opportunity.’’

Why don't you guys just cut your own throats and save everyone the trouble?

Between 5,000 and 6,000 people earning $30,000 to $40,000 a year now work at roughly 110 collection agencies around Buffalo, an industry created with the help of seed money from the state of New York.


So THAT is what your TAX DOLLARS are going for, 'eh, New Yawkers?

And Patterson wants to start SCANNING LICENSE PLATES and TAXING SODAS, huh?

The industry has been a rare economic bright spot in Buffalo, the nation’s third-poorest city of its size, a place where 30 percent of the people live in poverty. Yet, law enforcement and consumer groups point to a dark side: Buffalo, they say, has also become a center for some of the worst elements in the business. Debt collectors, some of them convicted felons, have illegally posed as lawyers or unlawfully browbeat people - threatening to have them arrested or stripped of custody of their children - to scare them into making payments....


Collection abuses have become so numerous that state and federal authorities have moved to shut down several Buffalo-area agencies where the most heartless and bullying telephone calls originated. At least 20 people have been sued or arrested on criminal charges.

But, but, but.... it's an ECONOMIC SUCCESS STORY!!!!

Boyland himself was forced out of business and jailed in June after authorities said they caught him carrying a loaded, unlicensed pistol as they investigated more than 1,000 complaints about abusive tactics at his collection business....


Collection agencies began sprouting in Buffalo in the mid-1990s as a spinoff of the city’s then-growing back-office and financial-services sector. Like other businesses operating big customer-service call centers, the collection companies were drawn to Buffalo by its inexpensive office space and its willing and affordable work force. A state development agency has sweetened the pot since 2001 with $1.2 million in grants to four collection agencies. It gave an additional $400,000 in October to a collection company that plans to double its work force with 50 new hires.

Just so you know that the GOVERNMENT and YOUR TAX DOLLARS are BEHIND the CREDITOR CALLING YOU, 'murka!!!

“Almost everyone knows someone whose son or daughter has worked for a collection agency,’’ said David Polino, president of the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York.

Like everyone knows someone with AIDS, huh?

“This is one of the industries that used to be Bethlehem Steel, the Chevy plant - all the places where you used to get out of high school and find employment 35 or 40 years ago, it’s now call centers.’’

How terribly sad for Buffalo -- and AmeriKa!


Related: The Boston Globe's Invisible Ink: Jobs Gone Forever

So how long until the call centers move out of Buffalo, huh?