There's a new frontier in the debt-collection industry: the dead. The New York Times reported yesterday that improved database technology has made it easier for collection agencies to discover when estates are opened in U.S. probate courts. Sometimes, when the deceased leaves no estate and no legal recourse for agencies to recover debt, the agencies just call the deceased's relatives and ask politely for the money.
The Times reported that relatives of deceased debt-holders often pay off the debt of their dead loved-ones, even though there is often no legal obligation to do so. After we linked to the article, HuffPost readers shared their own stories in the comments. Here's part of a post from reader MichaelDavid:
When my father died after a debilitating and ultimately futile battle with cancer in 1991, we discovered that he had used his credit cards to pay for his obviously-ineffective chemotherapy treatments. Now, the creditors wanted their money and were calling, and calling...and calling...and though we understood ourselves to "not" be legally-responsible for his debt, they insisted every day (and several times a day) that we were.
We didn't even have a chance to grieve because now, in addition to trying to bury our dead father, we had to continue telling creditors that he was no longer alive! But they wanted their money and insisted that we "were in fact responsible," contrary to what this article reports.
Has this happened to you? Have you been asked by a collection agency to pay a relative's debt? If so, we want to hear your story. Please send a quick summary to email@example.com.
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