The number one complaint received by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is about unfair and abusive debt collection practices. For those experiencing tough times or considering bankruptcy, collection efforts can become overwhelming. Many debt collectors will call multiple times a day, come to your house or job and even threaten you with legal action in attempt to collect on a debt. If the debtor is deceased, debt collectors often try to go after family members to collect on the debt. The FTC is putting a stop to these unfair collection practices for everyone and reaching out to protect families of the deceased from abusive debt collectors.
Putting Their Foot Down
For years, the FTC has had rules in place to prevent such unfair practices, but has had fairly lienent consequences for violators. The FTC has recently issued a statement clarifying the rules and guidelines of acceptable debt collection practices. In regards to debt collection from family members of a deceased debtor, the FTC specifies that:
- The collection agency may not mislead a family member into believing they are legally responsible for the debts of the deceased
- The collection agency will not reveal or refer to the debts of the deceased when attempting to find someone to pay the debts, they may only say they wish to discuss payment of the deceased’s bills
- The collection agency must adhere to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and may not contact anyone at inconvenient times or locations
- When communicating with an authorized person of the deceased’s debtors estate, the collection agency may not mislead them into believing they are personally liable for the debts and that their assets may be at risk for seizure or liquidation