The pandemic did not disappear during the epidemic. Meet a man whose job it was to collect it.

Among all consumer protections that lawmakers extended it to Americans during the epidemic, debt relief was not one of them. While emergency laws allowed people to owe certain debts, such as: student loans և: Pledges: In terms of tolerance, people who owed other forms of debt, such as a credit card, a car, or a loan, had no legal protection. Debt collection is silent bowing along as the epidemic led to mass deaths, disease, and unemployment.

Not only were recruitment companies still operating over the past year, but they were also doing offshore work in lower-cost labor markets as unemployment rose in the United States. BuzzFeed News spoke with a person who worked in the Mexican office of the American Third Party Collection Company in Tijuana, Mexico. He asked to be identified by a pseudonym to protect his identity. Rick, a 20-year-old Mexican citizen, said he logs into an automated call system 10 hours a day, pushing back hundreds of agents like him. He recalled trying to make money from people he simply did not have, even one person being treated in hospital for a coronavirus. “I feel bad because I also have my debts,” he said. He resigned earlier this year.

Here is Rick’s story, edited for simplicity և length.

I was unemployed In 2020, as I recently moved here to Tijuana. I saw a job posting on Facebook, I had a few friends working there who said it was collecting customer service: collections. From the advertisement it seemed that this was a customer service business because it was necessary to have a customer service experience. After training, they said that we would collect people who were calling and trying to make payments. And when we had more experience, we would call customers. I did not know

It threw me off a little bit because they were not really ahead. I used to work in call centers, but for customer service, not collections. So it was kind of awful for me. But I needed the job. So I tried my best. We only had two weeks to learn everything during the training. Since some of us do not have English as our first language (my first language is Spanish), we needed to learn new words: “deferral”, “balloon payment”, “what the borrower” և creditors. So it was an interesting challenge at the same time.

I would come in at 6 in the morning, work 10 hours a day until 4 in the evening. Because of COVID, we sat in two places. We always had to wear face masks. There were about 90 agents in the team.

We have a system that always assembles itself throughout the day. The account number automatically appears on the screen, we will get access. But dialing takes no more than 30 seconds, so we would have a minute or less to see their information on how much they owe. We just had to log in and start the call without knowing much about account history. Sometimes the system just connected us, people were already saying. “Hello. Hello? “I was not ready to take care of something so important that takes so little time to prepare. It ‘s definitely something they need to improve because people are having a bad time.

Typically, the system received more than 200 back-and-forth calls per day. Most of them did not answer. I would talk to about 50 people a day. All customers were in the US. These were mostly personal loans և car loans. If I needed to go to the bathroom or need a break, I could set myself up to stop receiving calls, even though the supervisors did not like it.

We do not really have control over how many times we call a customer. We do not have a system of knowledge. Sometimes a person would receive 10 calls, thus aggravating them. Sometimes during one day we would contact the same person և we would have to pretend we did not know or apologize to them.

One day my colleague called a man, he was really crazy. He said that he had received at least 20 calls that day, that he was not going to pay, that it was over. He was actually in the hospital. She said she had actually lost her husband to COVID, and that she was now in the hospital in critical condition receiving oxygen through COVID. But someone else would probably try to contact him two hours later, the next day, because once in a while we could not really do much about these calls.

There are some criteria we had to meet. It was not about how much money we raised. The quality assurance agent rated us “in the field of customer service”. They were trained to evaluate our calls. We had our scripts, և there were some scripts that needed to be said word for word. So, they come up with ideas, and to see them flush it out, it’s really fun. If, for example, you miss just one word, you get zero. I was doing well.

In our scenarios, you first go through a verification process. When it was time to collect, the consumer explained the situation, for example, because of COVID or not working, they could not pay. We tried to get paid at least twice. We can offer some deferrals, for example, or maybe a payment plan. On a typical day, more than half of the people I spoke to could not pay anything. Ero ro dollars.

It feels bad because I also have debts. I also have things to pay for. So trying to pay them was not easy for me. Even without an epidemic, it is difficult to claim money. But it is more of a challenge when you know that everyone is going through something that has affected a lot of people. I felt a little guilty for asking people for money, but at the same time, we had to keep working. We did not get involved trying to help [the consumer]; we were just going to gather there և that’s what our leaders reminded us of throughout the experiment.

My salary was about 3,000 Mexican pesos [$150] We are really close to San Diego, so we tend to have a higher rental price here. So I mean, I’m able to survive on that! That’s nothing compared to someone who went to college. But frankly, I know that because it’s an American company, they could pay more.

The main thing was that people were angry with you because you were disturbing them, trying to collect them. From the age of 17, because of my experience working in call centers, I was kind of used to being shouted at. But at the end of the day it is difficult. It is difficult for someone to shout at you, to say verbal things to you. I stopped debt collection in February. I would like to do something else. I think the reason I’m still working in the call center now is because I’m used to it. And it actually pays better than other jobs because they are American companies. ●:

This story is part of the BuzzFeed News Money Week series, which looks at how the epidemic has changed the way we work, borrow, spend, and save money.

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