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22 Comments

  • Reply victoria |

    Unless the family member has signed for the account and is a co-owner, there will be nobody that needs to pay. However, the estate of the deceased person has to pay to the level the person had an estate. So if the deceased was single and did not own anything, there would be no money to pay with. ON the other hand, if the deceased person had a house, car and/or other posessions, then those possessions would be sold to pay the debts of the deceased. I am not a professional, but think that this is how it is handled.

  • Reply Tony V |

    If you need further proof as to why one should minimize one’s relationship with banks and anyone who lends money, here is another example.

    Victoria is correct.

    Unless you are the co-signer of a credit card or other debt, there is no obligation — moral or legal or otherwise– for you or anyone else to pay the debts of someone who has died. In such an instance, NO ONE has to pay the debts. Do not pay off someone’s debt out of some sense of duty.

    If there is a will, let the legal process of administering the deceased’s estate handle it. If there is no will but assets, then the estate should be handled through probate court. Whoever has authority (power of attorney) or a family representative should consult an attorney.

    These banks and credit card companies are among the lowest form of humanity — ignore them so you can grieve.

  • Reply RB |

    Pond scum has more respect than the person who used such tactics. No one other than the deceased’s estate have any obligation to pay this debt. If I were your co-worker, I would plaster this story — including the name of the sleazy bank — on every media outlet I could find. People need to know that these monster mega-banks that are “too big to fail” are also too big to care.

    I have eliminated as many mega-bank relationships as I can. Once the credit cards are paid they are going away too.

  • Reply Mom, Ph.D. |

    I don’t have any story that could be worse than that one. That is truly horrible.

    I’m still mad that they charge an extra 3% for charges made outside the country. How did I not know about that charge?

  • Reply emmi |

    Mom, Ph.D., they got successfully sued over it.

    http://www.ccfsettlement.com/home/

    Still in appeal.

    Capital One, as of our last trip, is still the only card not charging the extra 3%.

    Sure would be more convenient and fair if we just had actual consumer protection. Ha ha ha hah. Ah, I kill me sometimes.

  • Reply Holly |

    Easy question: Target Visa.

    I had a $6700 credit limit, always paid bills on time, etc. Had a zero balance. I called them before heading on a trip to Europe to inform them of travel plans (which I’m supposed to do). I learned in the computer into that my credit limit was $200. I was obviously surprised. When I finally got a human, I was informed that since I hadn’t been using my card, they dropped my limit.

    NEVER, was I informed of this…thank God I realized it before I left the country!

    I asked for it to be reinstated so I could use the card on my trip. They said I’d need to start using it to have that happen. I said, “My trip is in six weeks.” Their response, “Oh, we won’t be able to up it that quickly.” I said, “What good is a $200 credit limit on trip to Europe?”

    I used a number of cuss words and canceled the card. And I haven’t been in a Target store in 9 months.

  • Reply Nichole@40daysof |

    I once cancelled a card over the phone. It had a zero balance. two months later, a bill showed up for and expensive weekend to a B&B in upstate New York. With accompanying gas charges there and back. Some of the gas stations were surprisingly close to the credit card servicing center.

    I, on the other hand, was in the midwest and hadn’t been in New York State since I was an infant. I did eventually get it cleared up. But I’ve been very careful about how I cancel cards from that point on.

    You co-worker’s situations in one of the worst I’ve heard.

  • Reply Melanie |

    This is awful. What’s more awful is that there is now a trend for creditors and credit collection agencies to hassle remaining relatives for the balances for a long time. I’ve read about this new tactic and how so many people don’t realize they aren’t responsible and agree to take on debt that isn’t theirs.

    Even more disturbing is that I teach in a prestigious business school (I teach writing, so the students don’t see me as being a business “expert” of any sort), and I had a conversation one day with our future business leaders (and I say, oh help us lord – not joking) who thought that this is the way it should be. _Somebody_ has to pay, they said; otherwise, the banks, those poor trodden-upon institutions, will have lots of bad debt write-off. So you might mention when appropriate to your co-worker that she, or other family members, might start getting calls like these and to make sure everyone in her family knows they’re not responsible.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/04/business/04dead.html?_r=1

  • Reply April W. |

    I know here in Ontario, Canada where I live, there is consumer protection from this sort of thing for credit cards companies and collection agencies. When my mother died 8 years ago, as the executor of her estate, I contacted a cc company to inform them of her death, and was prepared to provide documentation. they actually tried to tell me that as an estate administrator, I was ‘personally obligated’ to pay the debt out of my own pocket!!! After I stopped laughing, I told them to take me to court. I sent the documentation, they wrote it off (as they have to at that point), and I never heard from them again. Bullying family members is a scare tactic, and although your friend has no legal obligation to the debt, that doesn’t mean that they won’t try.

  • Reply ohnoAMY |

    My father committed suicide due to financial problems, and Capital One’s collections department called my mother, pretending to be lawyers, and told her they’d take her house if she didn’t pay. They harassed us every day for 2 months until we finally found a lawyer willing to take on the estate (most didn’t feel equipped to handle it.) Another card company told my mother that my father would be disappointed in her for not paying the remaining balance. It is absolutely ridiculous. It’s one thing to do your job, but how can anyone do that to grieving families?

  • Reply Andy |

    Oh my – I am so sorry to hear all of these horrible stories about credit card companies. Especially during a time when people are grieving. On the other hand, thank you for sharing them so I know what to do should I ever be in on of those positions.

  • Reply Karen |

    My husband had passed away suddenly and 3 years after his death I received a phone call from a credit card company asking for payment. I told them my name was not on the account and therefore not obligated to pay. They then proceeded to ask me “Don’t you want him to have a good credit rating?”

    “Um, no…he’s dead. What does he need a credit rating for?”

    Unbelievable.

  • Reply MyMoneyMess |

    Having worked in debt relief for the last ten plus years I have more horror stories than I possibly have time or space to write. It’s pretty much impossible to pick a worst.

    One thing I can advise after dealing with surviving spouses on several occasions, don’t bother dealing with credit card companies on the phone. Get one copy of the death certificate for each financial institution and send it to them certified mail with return receipt requested. The prevents the stupid insensitive phone conversations and provides a permanent record that they were notified. That’s worth the extra expense of the certified mail.

  • Reply kelly |

    My ex husband committed suicide 2 years ago. About three months after his death they started call me and my children for repayment. I sent them the copy of the death cert and added that I wasnt on the account anyway.

    One day they got my son who was 16 at the time and told him that his father would be angry that he didnt pay, and that he should pay before they took me to jail. So we waited and taped the next two calls they made, handed them over to the state attorneys office in PA and havent heard from them since.

    they are scum

  • Reply Adam |

    One thing that can help this is having the estate go into probate. When my mom passed away (she was a lawyer, so all her lawyer friends were giving me good advice) we handled the estate in a way that ended up saving me a few 100k.

    Basically, you don’t contact any creditors yourself. You have your lawyer put out a “notice to creditors”. This is a public announcement that the person died, and if they have any legitimate claims against the estate they need to file them without 90 days (or 30? not sure i remember that). The nice part of that is that any creditors deal directly with the estate rather than in the deceased name. If they want to complain about not making it in time, let them, the law is on your side.

    From what I remember, if someone passes away, creditors are supposed to get a chance at things before inheritance is distributed. I’m not sure if there’s a threshold, but I think it’s anything really. So if they only had 1,000 in their account you’d create an estate with that amount to payout all creditors. If a 2000k student loan comes calling, the most you’d end up paying is the 1,000 they had. In my case, she had some funds saved up, and the student loan company failed to file a claim in the time window. If I hadn’t gone the official route they’d be able to file a claim anytime against me personally, but now that they missed their chance, I’m free and clear.

  • Reply Lizzie |

    Unbelievable. After reading horror stories about the TSA this afternoon, this actually is worse. I don’t know how that’s possible, but collection agencies badgering grieving family members for debt repayments is disgusting.

  • Reply Michelle |

    What is sad is the creditor on the other end of the phone has to have a family member in his life. Why is it because of the company he works for he seems to leave his compassion for other humans at home? Like you friend isn’t going through enough.

  • Reply Dream Mom |

    My sister died of colon cancer last year and was in a hospice section of the hospital in her last few weeks. During the last week she was there, she kept wanting to get out of bed and get dressed to go home and pay her rent. Although she was no longer coherent at times at the end, since the cancer had spread to her other organs, there were a few times where she was clear and so intent on going home to pay that. Ironically, she died on the first of the month.

    The one thing I remember when I went through her bills was how easy everything was-she had no debt and every bill was paid in full. All I had to do was to notify the utilities.

    I can’t imagine dealing with credit card companies after suffering such a loss. My condolences to your co-worker.

  • Reply Claire in CA, USA |

    These stories are so awful, they make me tear up. 🙁

    The worst story I have (which isn’t bad, in light of the previous posts), happened this week.

    We have been getting daily calls from a specific phone number, which I have been ignoring. One day, I finally decided to pick it up to see who was calling. It was a recording, saying it was from “Account Services” and that I could get a reduction on my cc interest rates. I knew very well it was not one of my existing cards. I pressed the button to talk to a human, and asked “What company are you from?” The guy said “We can offer you a 6.9% credit card!” I replied, “How did you get my number? I’m on the Do Not Call Registry.” He said, “Wouldn’t you like to get a 6.9% credit card?” I kept repeating, how did you get my number? He kept avoiding my question. I was finally yelling, and said, “Take me off your call list,” over and over because he would not stop saying things like “You couldn’t use a 6.9% credit card?” and “Wouldn’t your family benefit from a 6.9% credit card?”

    He finally hung up. I think my blood pressure went through the roof during that call.

  • Reply Hane |

    Nine years ago my oldest brother died alone three states away from my mom and family. He had been working through a temp agency making minimum wage. It’s a long story involving addiction, rehab, broken marriage, etc. so emotions were extremely fragile for everyone. All he had to his name was one last paycheck, and owed a couple hundred dollars on a (world’s largest retailer) credit card. Representatives of said company harrassed my poor mother relentlessly for their few pieces of silver even with proof of death and no will. One week to the day after she received that tiny last paycheck they called demanding that EXACT amount as settlement of my brother’s cc. She was so stunned she immediately wrote them a check even though his final expenses far exceeded his assets, which were non-existent. That whole experience caused me to write out my final instructions to my own family as to where my will is, what assets we have including all life insurance, retirement and cash accounts; what needs to be paid, what we own outright, how to settle debts, and even asking to remember to feed the pets. Typing this reminds me I need to update those instructions . . . and to pay off those damn credit cards.

  • Reply Mike |

    A friend of mine decided to help his ex wife pay off her credit card. She was ill at the time and had not made a payment for 6 of months.

    After negotiating with the credit company to pay out the most of the balance, they agreed to waive $8,000 in interest costs.

    To get the money the credit company convinced him to withdraw money from his pension plan and referred him to an “investment company”.

    The “investment firm” submitted paperwork to withdraw the funds. On withdrawal he had to pay a 40% in taxes plus additional fees.

    $20,000 was taken to pay out the credit card and the referred “investment company” invested his remainder of the account.(Of course the firm was paid a commission.)

    A month later the credit card company notified the ex wife they had changed their mind and she still owed the outstanding interest.

    Unfortunately he did not get the agreement in writing.

    He is out $20,000 paid to his wives credit card, he paid for an investment he did not want, he had to pay $10,000 in taxes and she still owes $8,000 in interest.

    Ouch!

  • Reply sick |

    My Father passed away the day after Christmas 2010 and within 3 days creditors knew and were calling my mother.

    Now I deal with credit stuff for a living so I wasn’t surprised, but I can honestly say I’ve never been so mad or disgusted with a company as I was when I found out they were already hounding my Mom.

    Asking if he left enough money to cover the bills. Sickening!

So, what do you think ?