Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: March 2007
Duration: 5 hours 0 minutes
Maxed Out exposes the recent history and the culture of debt for all of its absurdities and contradictions. From the gilded master-planned communities of Northern Las Vegas to America's Deep South and inner cities, the world's largest financial institutions are trolling for customers from the nouveau riche to the poorest members of our society, the latter of which counterintuitively make for the largest profits. Another profitable group can be found in and around our nation's universities, where credit card issuers are forming "partnerships" with colleges—paying them millions of dollars for access to their students' personal information, and essentially setting kids up for financial ruin. Maxed Out examines an industry that thrives on making people fail, then pursues them relentlessly to death's door. The industry's frontier is called "debt buying" and it's a veritable Wild West in which young men are hoping to make vast fortunes off of the misery and misfortune of others. Their tool is a vast trove of personal information that can be bought for next to nothing—as well as intimidation, guilt, and fear.
Maxed Out explores the burgeoning information business. Nine out of ten credit reports contain errors, but they're not being corrected for one simple reason: the more negative information, the higher the interest rates and the greater the industry's profits. If you dare challenge the credit bureaus, industry goons are dispatched to wear you down. But, if you are a prominent American, your credit is sealed off in a special "V.I.P." section and kept error-free. This protects the industry from legislative and judicial action. It also keeps those in power from knowing how flawed the system really is.
By turns hilarious, fascinating, and deeply disturbing, Maxed Out is ultimately one observer's answer to the question, "Why can't we get out of debt?