Statement of Policy Regarding Communications in Connection with Collection of a Decedent’s Debt, Project No. P104806
The FTC should never allow rules to be passed that harms or damages relatives of deceased persons. The rules should be made clear that estates of deceased persons can have claims assessed against them, as the law allows, and in proper procedure. If there is no estate and the deceased has no assets, the agency or person should be restrained from pursuing any relatives or other parties who may have been associated with the deceased. Several years ago I was contacted by a collection agency regarding my deceased mother-in-law. She had defaulted on a vehicle that she had purchased shortly before her death. She had returned the vehicle to the company. Over six years since her death had passed and this collection company was attempting to collect what they said was the amount still due to the company. When I told them that she had died six years prior, they told me that I had a moral obligation to pay her debt. They told me that I was obligated to send them a death certificate as proof of death. I politely told them no, and not to contact me again. They didn't because they knew that they had no right to do what they were doing and I told them I would pursue legal action against them if they did. If you pass any loosening of rules for collection agencies to collect debts of deceased persons, you will give them a license to stretch the rules above and beyond what they are allowed. Every day we read about collection agencies bending the rules to attempt to collect debts from debtors. Some of them are just plain nasty. Just last week there was a news story about a collection agency that actually sent out people dressed as deputy sheriffs using summons to debtors to appear in court, and then the collection agency falsified a room in their building to look like a courtroom, dressed a person in a black robe and had him pretend to be a judge. The false deputy sheriffs told the people that they would be arrested if they did not appear and pay their debts. That is how far some of these groups will go. And, if you give them any further rights, they will bend them in the same manner as this collection agency. The ethics of many of these agencies are sadly lacking, and the people that they most target are the elderly and the poor or undereducated. They have plenty of rights as far as legal collection processes. Do not give them more.