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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Jul 25, 2012

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When a homeowner, student, or personal loan borrower defaults on their financing, they can expect their contact information to be passed on to some sort of debt collection agency.

Many consumer advocates claim this infringes on our rights and results in “cruel” treatment of our nation’s debtors. But as irritating or unpleasant that harassing debt collection calls may be, we, as Americans, should consider ourselves lucky that’s all we put up with for defaulted loans.

Consider the story of Razi Khan, a resident of a city located in eastern Afghanistan, who owes a measly $900.

Khan and his family have been sentenced to work in a brick factory as a result of his personal loan debt. He and six of his children—the youngest being 4-years-old—have been sentenced to lay bricks for this factory until he has accumulated enough money to satisfy his outstanding balance, reported The Associated Press.

“I work with my father every day and we only have a weekend [to spend time together],” said six-year-old Rashid to the AP.

For all of their work, the family as a whole earns just $6 a day.

That’s $6 which must be divvied up to feed his children, care for his sick wife, and be put away to someday pay off his debt.

“My heart wants to accomplish more things, such as to educate my children and to make them equal with other people, but unfortunately, I cannot do this,” said Khan to the AP.

Khan originally fell into debt shortly after his wife, whom he wed through a family-arranged marriage, became ill. Khan asked his employer, which was ironically a different brick factory, for a personal loan to help pay for her treatments.

But Khan couldn’t keep up with the payments and eventually defaulted on his employer-originated personal loan. Khan and his family then moved, and this current brick factory agreed to take this loan off of Khan’s former employer. But this new personal loan securer is requiring he continue to pay it back.

“Whenever we see our father’s obligation, we think that we should work days and nights with him,” said his 14-year-old daughter, Raihana, to the AP. “Our hearts want more things, but we can’t have them.”

When comparing Khan and his family’s plight with our own back here in the states, it’s not hard to see how debt collection phone calls are mere first world problems.