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Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Posted by stir_fryi (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 19, 08 at 10:12

A sibling died and had significant credit card debt. We sent all creditors copies of the death certificate. Now debt collectors are calling us.

We have co-signed for NOTHING with the deceased. It is making me uncomfortable that they are calling us. There is no will, assets are less than the debts, and no executor.

Stupidly, I had a conversation with two creditors explaining this. I never took responsibility for the debt but now I am thinking I should not be talking to anyone of them. Since, of course, I am not responsible for this person's debt and not inheriting anything from the estate.

Can someone give me direction of what to say when these people call? Short off something nasty!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

I am sorry about the death of your sibling.

I would say something nasty, but that's just me.

Tell them you are well aware of the fact that your sibling had debt, and you are also well aware that you are not responsible for them and that you will not under any circumstance pay one red cent towards any of them. And if they call again, you will be getting a lawyer who will explain the concept of harrassment to them.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

YOU are not responsible for the debt, but the siblings estate IS! So if there was any property (home, car, belongings, etc.), the sale of these assets should have gone towards the debt - or as far as possible to cover it.

I think you can get them for harrassment - possibly through Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. I've heard people call Dave Ramsey (radio get-out-of-debt guru) and he's give them advise about what to do and who to contact. That, and telling them not to contact you again or you'll give them a blast with an air horn the next time they call - so make sure they type this information into their little computer bank for future reference.

Put a phone block on the numbers or change your phone number are also options. Remember, they will attempt to get blood from a turnip... Some people pay off the debts just to get rid of the harrassing phone calls even though it's not their debt, and that's what they are hoping for.

-Grainlady


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Stir, If you send them written notice to not contact you again, they cannot legally do so. Here's a sample letter. Be sure to send it certified with return receipt.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cease Communication Letter


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Well, they called again this am (DSM services) -- I told them we are not handling the affairs (which is reality, no one is). They asked if there was a wife or kids and I said no. We hung up and about an hour later I think they called again! It was Unknown Number again and I did not answer.

They probably just want to know about the estate, etc... but I just don't trust those people at all the help them. My BIL's debts far exceed the only asset he had (a house).

What a mess -- I want nothing to do with any of it.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Collection agents have a lot of latitude on what they can do and as said sometimes it works so they try everything that's been said.

Grainlady is right, the estate is responsible. The estate usually (course this varies from state to state) will have to file published notice to creditors to file claims against the estate and the estate will turn in to the court a plan to settle it. If there's any assets, insurance, etc, they have a claim to it before final distribution.

By sending the creditors the info you did, you essentially gave them the in to contact you. You gave them a pre-existing business relationship. You tried to do something courteous and got stung.

I've found that you can't be nice to these people. You need to be rude. Don't be a fool and make threats like you're going to call a lawyer unless you have already. These aren't fools. They've been through this before and know that people won't spend the money on a lawyer for a phone call. So you only wind up looking like an idiot and they'll keep on just to make things tougher for you.

If it were me, I'd give them another number to call. Don't tell them, but give them the Attorney General's Office number (or another collection agency you don't like) or something like that. Let them put that into their system and start calling them! :) But that would be wrong, wouldn't it? Uh, wouldn't it? Hmmm.

I went through this a number of times. A former roommate had debt problems, a person with a similar name and they called me (from the phone book) just to try, and other stuff. One time though, I got the guy's supervisor's full name and it was unusual so I looked it up. I called his house and talked to his wife. Let's just say that I never heard from him again! :D

Sometimes if I was bored I'd just keep them on the line. The longer they're on, the less they can accomplish and they get paid by results. Ask lots of stupid, redundant, repeating questions, put them on hold for extended periods but not so long that they'll hang up. Take the phone to the bathroom after a bean feed and toot them a song, grunt and flush the toilet! Then go where are we and start all over again. Don't let it get to you. Have some fun with it. You might as well. Why? Because now that you're in the "system" you'll receive more calls. Why? Because you're now in the system and when they sell your account to another collection agency, they'll be calling you and you'll start all over again. Been there, done that.

I chuckle when I see and hear that they "can't" do something. The laws are very flimsy and seldom if ever enforced. Be real, you have no rights as far as creditors and they assume everyone is lying to them so they'll never believe you when you tell them the truth. Of course they're going to try to collect and get as much info as they can in the process to help them. In fairness, they should! The guy was a deadbeat (no pun intended) and it costs everyone. So his estate should be responsible for his debts. But you should not.

Let this be a lesson folks. It doesn't always pay to be kind. And if you're going to be courteous, be sure to use the decedent's address and phone in all communication. Never use yours. DO NOT CALL THEM FROM YOUR PHONE. They (almost always) use 800 numbers because you cannot block your number to an 800 number. So if you call one, you give them your number and account info and it's tracked to the account so they will be calling you.

BTW, I assume you gave them HIS phone number? (At some time, for them to contact.)

Frankly, your best option would be to change your number if it really bothers you. It's a rather drastic measure but if you're really uncomfortable, it might be worth it. It's drastic since there's a lot involved in that legitimate accounts have to be updated, friends & relatives have to be notified, employers, various appropriate Federal and State agencies, insurance companies, etc. If not, you risk some issues there. Just be careful that well-meaning friends and relatives don't give away the new number when they call them.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Did you send the "cease communication" letters yet?


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

We had creditors calling for a debt for my BIL who we had no contact with anyway. They (the caller) insisted we get in touch and relay the information re money oweing. DH blew a gasket and that settled the matter. No more phone calls after that. The credit company wanted us to take responsiblity "it's your brother after all".....we didn't make the debt and we sure didn't pay it. Budster


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

cynic,

I liked your ideas about having fun with them.

Sue


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

One other thing I forgot, you might want to keep an eye on your credit report just in case they try to slip something in there on you. Don't put anything past them. These slimeballs do anything, absolutely anything.

Also, if you are considering sending any sort of "cease communication" letter, give it a second thought. Do you really want to give them MORE personal information they can use against you? The odds of it doing any good anyway are probably slim and none and slim's on its way outta town... I don't know where people get the idea that things like this can do any good. The sad fact is, they don't.

I worked with private investigators and did civil/criminal process service and other work in the investigation field. You'd be surprised at what we can find out about a person with very few starter seeds. People tried ducking me, but I never failed to serve a process. I took it as a challenge. But I digress.

Good luck with your situation. Hope it works out for you very quickly.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

I haven't sent any letter because I have no address to send it to. The callers just identify themselves as DSM (or was it DMS?) Services calling on behalf of Wells Fargo.

We were out this evening and I see Private Caller was on the caller ID. I will just avoid Unknown Caller and Private Caller.

As for the "estate" -- who opens it with the probate court? We certainly won't because we have nothing to gain from it. The mortgage co. will eventually foreclose the house and there will be nothing more left. The credit card companies will be out of luck.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Cynic, How would they "slip something" into her credit report without her social security number? If they have that (which I certainly hope they don't), they have far more personal info than she would give them in a simple cease comm letter. BTW, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits a debt collector from contacting a person after they have received notice to cease. I'm sure Wells Fargo knows this and also knows they can face civil liability should they fail to comply with federal law. It is normally a fairly simple matter to stop these people. They are just hoping she doesn't know that.

Here is a link that might be useful: FDCPA Violations


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

I am an attorney and I never heard of the plan proposed by Cynic. An estate with no assets doesn't have to do anything. I never allow my clients to send a death certificate to the debt collectors because it invites spam, harassing calls (hoping to pressure you into paying a debt you do not have to)and identity theft. (the social security numbers are on the death certificate in most states, along with enough information to get a credit card)
You are not liable and the real problem with the FDCPA is that if you look it up, the penalties are very low. Thanks to the big contribution banks made to the current administration which also arranged the bankruptcy law & the lending laws to favor the banks. Thats coming back to bite them because you used to be able to pay off a foreclosure through a chapter 13, keep your house and still pay the arrearages over time. Now thats almost impossible hence the awful foreclosure rate.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Someone posted this about the number that is calling us on 800Notes.com :

I received a phone call today looking for a family member of my former co-worker that passed away earlier this year. She said the company was DCM, and to have the person's family member call her. She would not tell me the nature of the business she had regarding my friend's "estate". Based on her reluctance to give me information and the way she spoke I think this is a collection agency, but again, she would not confirm.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

stir_fryi, that was a good assumption. I won't keep harping on it, so last time, don't give them anything. Unless you dislike the victim.

marge727, obviously you're not an attorney in MN so for you to not have heard about the publication requirements and probate requirements would not be surprising. As I said states vary. There is also a "simple probate" procedure for limited asset estates but not knowing what the assets are I can't say whether it would be covered or not. My Aunt's estate was covered by it, shouldn't have been but was because of events, but that's a long sad story.

gini2, what makes you think you need a SS# to place something into a credit report? Plus, getting a SS# these days isn't all that difficult. People fling them around so readily that it truly is scary. For some reason you're under the mistaken impressions that 1) the FDCPA has substatial teeth, which it doesn't; and 2) collection agents care. And BTW, you assume that they ARE representing Wells Fargo and that Wells Fargo is aware and condones their actions. Both assumptions are pretty precarious at this point. You don't suppose a collection agent would misrepresent themselves would you? There's an old saying about what happens when you assume....

It's like the do not call list. Good idea, poorly executed. Theoretically you tell them to put you on the DNC list they "can't" call you again. But that presupposes they put you on the list and obey the rules. There's been some people that have had some fun with them and there are a lot of more reputable places trying to follow the law. That's where the benefit it. But you're still far better protecting your privacy than expecting the callers to obey.

BTW, if you do want to play with them some more, just start requesting company name, address, phone number, supervisor name, etc from them when they call. Although they are "required" to give this when asked, that doesn't say they will, nor does it guarantee it'll be accurate. You can then do some investigation to verify it, get a non-800 phone number, all this presupposing you want to mess with it. If not, ignore them or change number. Expect frequent calls though for about 6 months, should then die off for 3-6 months then start up again. For your own sake, don't let it get to you. I fully understand the frustrations but take a deep breath and laugh it off as best you can. If it gets to be too much you can always change your number. BTW, it does get them very frustrated (turnabout is fair play as they say) when you start asking them what they had for breakfast the last week, their dog's parent's name, where they go on vacation, what their favorite fart smell is and what color underwear their goldfish wear! Act like you truly care! :D


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

When they call again just ask for their address and send a Cease and Desist letter with your phone number. Send it CMRRR and keep that if they call you after that send a copy of your letter with a copy of your green card to the Attorney General in your state and the debt collectors state.

You can also tell them to call 1-800-HEAVEN.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Get an answering machine to pick up your messages. Let's see how many messages with their names they are going to leave..if it gets out of handd you might be able to build a case from the messages.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

As far as you know these callers could be scamming you. They read the obituary in the news paper, somehow found you, and are trying to extort money from you. If you talk to them again, tell them to file an official claim against the estate when the probate is opened (which will be never). The (non existent) estate will have to advertise in the local news papers asking for all parties with a claim against the estate to write to the (non existent) executor. They can have their attorney watch for the (non existent) probate filing at the county clerk's office.

However it sounds like there are assets. There is a house involved??? That's an asset whether they owed money on it or not. The bank may or may not want the house back.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Just an update. My DH called that company (DCM) and chewed them out (why are you calling us? we have nothing to do with it, etc...") -- they have not called since.

DH called the mortgage co and they said they would "secure the house." That was weeks ago. The house is still there, same locks, long grass and bushes and probably will be for years!

We are washing our hands of it.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

Call the local district attorneys office or at least the companies that are owed money and ask then to stop or you will take action. It is against the law to harass you, been through that with one of my step children. They even threaten to call the police and have me arrested for not telling them where the kid was. I didn't know until much later that it was against the law.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

You know coming at this from a different perspective, he owes people money. He got stuff he didn't pay for; in a way that's stealing. They are only trying to collect what is rightfully due to them. Do you realize that if enough people don't pay their bills, the costs just indirectly gets passed on to other well paying customers, like you and me?

I hate how people bash collectors when they are only trying to get what is rightfully theirs. They're not the ones stealing. Granted, in this case you probably furnished too much info. But if there is a house, if there is insurance, if there is anything, they are entitled to be paid. I have never known a collector that wanted someone to pay a bill that wasn't due; just one that was. It sounds like you're not getting anything at all from you sibling, but in most cases there would be "something" to help pay off bills. Most people try not to live just buying and owing people without having some form of equity to help be able to pay off bills. I guess these companies are just expected to eat these unpaid bills. How would you feel if you sold your car to someone and they died before you got the money for it? Wouldn't you try to collect the money? I have a feeling you're mad at the wrong person.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

* Posted by carla35 (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 24, 08 at 1:32

You know coming at this from a different perspective, he owes people money. He got stuff he didn't pay for; in a way that's stealing. They are only trying to collect what is rightfully due to them. Do you realize that if enough people don't pay their bills, the costs just indirectly gets passed on to other well paying customers, like you and me?

I hate how people bash collectors when they are only trying to get what is rightfully theirs. They're not the ones stealing. Granted, in this case you probably furnished too much info. But if there is a house, if there is insurance, if there is anything, they are entitled to be paid. I have never known a collector that wanted someone to pay a bill that wasn't due; just one that was. It sounds like you're not getting anything at all from you sibling, but in most cases there would be "something" to help pay off bills. Most people try not to live just buying and owing people without having some form of equity to help be able to pay off bills. I guess these companies are just expected to eat these unpaid bills. How would you feel if you sold your car to someone and they died before you got the money for it? Wouldn't you try to collect the money? I have a feeling you're mad at the wrong person

I guess you haven't heard of them calling and collecting from people that don't owe them. Have you heard of ID theft. They don't care anything about anyone except getting money and NOT following the law. Did you know that whom ever you had owed money to sold the debt to the collector at out $.07 on the dollar. Who you originally owed it to writes it off. Maybe one day they will call you because they think it is you that owes it and harass you and then you will understand.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

* Posted by carla35 (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 24, 08 at 1:32

Most people try not to live just buying and owing people without having some form of equity to help be able to pay off bills. I guess these companies are just expected to eat these unpaid bills.
--------------------------

Sorry, I have little sympathy for companies that would loan a guy on a fixed $1,600 a month income thousands and I mean thousands of dollars beyond which he had the ability to pay. I mean -- duh! How did they think he could pay a large monthly mortgage, plus property taxes, plus car insurance, groceries, utilities, credit card bills.... I wouldn't have given him $5 for gas! They have to take some responsibility for giving him the money. In some ways they are getting what they deserve.

They are welcome to try to recover the money however they can as long as they leave us out of it.


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RE: Dying with Debt -- who's responisible?

I'm sorry you're going through this. I went through the same thing with my MIL. It's very upsetting to get these calls when it's not your responsibility. It is okay to be rude to these people - they are not showing you any courtesy. The calls will eventually stop, even though it won't be as quickly as you want.


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