Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Debt after death: Banks chase down mourners

Debt collectors are especially abusive after a death. Creditors race to collect debts before all of the money has been drained from the estate. Creditors often make frequent and high-pressure calls to family members and executors of an estate. They often offer reduced interest rates, reduced balances and other incentives if payment or tranfer of debt happens quickly.

If you find yourself in this position, my advice is to just let all calls from unrecognized numbers go to voicemail and take your time deciding what to do. You should have at least 30 days from the time you receive written notice to respond. Don't feel obligated to pay an unsecured debt if the estate is unable to pay. Obviously consult a lawyer, but don't let the creditors pressure you into making rash decisions.

Source: CNN Money

Because it's likely the deceased carried multiple debts, creditors often race to be the first to collect money from the next of kin or the estate before it has all dried up, said Gerri Detweiler, a debt specialist at credit card research and comparison site Credit.com.

"The longer a creditor waits to get paid, the less their chance of getting paid," she said. "And unfortunately, they may find that it's easiest to elicit payment when bereaved relatives are still trying to sort everything out."

During her husband's wake, Deborah Crabtree said she had set up an answering machine and put it on speaker phone so that loved ones could leave their condolences, according to the complaint she filed against Bank of America. But instead of hearing only the voices of friends and family come through the speakers, she said a debt collector from Bank of America Home Loan Servicing called every 15 minutes and left harassing messages about the debts her husband had left behind that everyone in the house could hear.

Even after the wake, Crabtree said Bank of America collectors called her as many as 48 times a day --and even threatened to foreclose on her home, according to a lawsuit she filed last month against the bank.

This is a Suspicious News Brief. Read more at CNN Money.
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