Statement of Policy Regarding Communications in Connection with Collection of a Decedent’s Debt, Project No. P104806 #00053 

Submission Number:
Mary Gates
Initiative Name:
Statement of Policy Regarding Communications in Connection with Collection of a Decedent’s Debt, Project No. P104806
My husband and I are "third parties" who have been harassed for years over supposed "debt" owed by my 94 year old father in law, who has severe dementia and resides in an assisted living facility. Obviously, he did not have sound judgment for years, yet credit companies extended him credit although he had no ostensible means to repay it. The attorney appointed to represent him when he was declared incompetent by the court attempted to negotiate payment with these "creditors" that reflected the original amount owed, rather than the exorbitant amount accrued after years of late fees and penalties were added to the interest charges. Few were willing to negotiate. Rather, they prefer to harass my husband and me. The limitation on seeking "location" is meaningless, since we are unwilling to direct them to call a severely demented person in an institution. The original creditors are no longer involved, since the debt has been sold numerous times. Every time, the harassment begins again. Continuing this harassment after death is the ultimate insult. The FTC needs to limit this type of calling to the original creditor. Once the debt is "sold", the original creditor has agreed to be satisfied for less. The subsequent purchasers of the debt took the risk upon themselves to collect or not collect. They should not be permitted to prey upon loved ones who lost a family member. The FTC should not be protecting the credit companies. They have no regard for personal circumstance. Most incredibly in our situation, despite my father in law being 94 and in an assisted living facility with outstanding debt he cannot pay, he receives almost daily offers of "preapproved credit" from the very companies that sold the previous debt. Please keep in mind that the so called "debt" these collectors are seeking payment for is not the original amount the deceased person borrowed, but an astronomical amount that predominantly consists of penalities, interest, and late fees, most accumulated because the person afforded the credit in the first place had no ostensible means to repay even the initial amount. With the frail elderly like my father in law, it often means that, for health reasons, they lacked the sound judgment necessary to enter into a value contract with resulting indebtedness. Yet, the creditors are now protected by the FTC in pursuing this invalid contract even after death. The credit companies should go back to evaluating credit worthiness, rather than putting so much effort into collection efforts from the sick, the elderly, and now the deceased.