History of Debt Collection

Debt collection has existed for far longer than one might imagine.  Debt Collection was woven into the fabric of economies of ancient  civilizations. Some ancient societies allowed debt forgiveness and erasure after a certain period of time, others did not.  The oldest written records indicate that debt collection dates back to 3000 BC in the civilization of Sumer.  Sumer was the first ancient urban civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, which later became Mesopotamia, then Persia, and today is southern Iraq. It was here that we have  the source of the earliest known writings dealing with the profession of debt collection.

Among Sumer folk, those who had debt and could not pay their creditors would become “debt slaves”, sometimes  along with their family and servants. Some people would remain debt slaves for years, or even generation; debt saves worked for their creditor  with physical labor until their debt was paid.

One must wonder how the CFPB would look at debt slaves in the context of today’s debtor friendly laws.  Society has certainly come a long way, but has always recognized the need for debt collection in a functioning economy.   We’ll be producing this as an occasional series on the history of debt collection.

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