Submission Number: 00082
Received: 11/22/2010 3:03:04 PM
Commenter: Wayne Forgie
Agency: Federal Trade Commission
Initiative: Statement of Policy Regarding Communications in Connection with Collection of a Decedent’s Debt; Project No. P104806
Attachments: No Attachments
The nation is currently suffering under what is known as a "recession" but I term it a "depression" just as was the great depression in the 1920's & 1930's. Many times in an effort to earn money the collector of debts of the recently passed will telephone persons either related or not to the deceased and pressure the person to "honorably" pay the debt which might be owed or might not. Sometimes in those days following the death of a loved one the last thing a spouse, child or other relation needs is someone on the phone or in person DEMANDING payment for a debt and implying that now the original debtor is dead the close family members owe this money. I have witnessed this event some years ago when a friend was killed in Vietnam and "bill collectors" were telephoning day and night to attempt to get this woman to pay an unknown debt. Its worst when the person who died is an adult child or other relation and the debt collector makes statements that the debt is now the responsibility of the next of kin or closest living relative. In fact at times there maybe no legal debt involved just an attempt by unscrupulous persons to obtain money from grieving family members in whatever way possible.
I feel that it is not only wrong but unjust for any collector of debt to start making telephone calls to pressure the family to pay this "debt" which may or may not be a valid debt. I feel that to randomly telephone any family or friends of someone who has recently died in an attempt to collect a debt owed by the person who passed away is both unjust and not in any sense legal since the only entity responsible for any unresolved debts is either an estate or a co-signer or co-owner of assets with the deceased. I feel in NO INSTANCE should a "debt collector be allowed to contact either the family or friends of deceased until at least 30 days after the date of death. Then if there is a debt owed by the deceased that persons estate should be responsible rather than some random family member unless in business with the deceased. Finally, a telephone call is not the method one should use in collection efforts but only in an attempt to ascertain the executor of the estate. If the debt was made by the deceased and the debt was incurred while married and the deceased lived in "cohabitation" with the spouse MAYBE there might be some liability on the part of the deceases spouse.
Most assets held in common may be used to pay any legal debt. In no circumstance should a collector be allowed to point to proceeds of life insurance which was on the deceased and attempt to collect unpaid debts against that life insurance to another person. ONLY THE PROCEEDS OF AN ESTATE OWNED BY THE DEBTOR SHOULD BE SUBJECT TO COLLECTION EFFORTS OF A DEBT COLLECTOR. Collection efforts should not be allowed until and unless the collector is able to present clear legal evidence that some amount of money was owed by the deceased to either a person or company.
Any collection attempts should not be allowed against friends or even family unless the friend or family is the executor of the deceases estate and collection efforts should not be allowed to proceed more than 24 months after the death unless such efforts were clearly ongoing against the estate prior to the 24 month limit.
Finally, any person who falsely presents him/herself as a collector of debt for a debt which was not a legal obligation in the normal term should be subjected to a period of either imprisonment of two years and/or a fine of not more than $20,000. per event. This is suggested for those who would make a living subjecting families to false claims at their worst times after the death of a loved one.(in other words a person who is attempting to obtain money by falsely claiming a debt owed by the deceased and now to be paid by the family members or friends should face a fine and prison time.)