The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau today issued a report entitled A snapshot of debt collection complaints submitted by older consumers. Among the report's findings are . . .
· Collectors hounding older Americans about medical debt: Older Americans describe being confused and frustrated because collectors attempt to collect medical expenses while the consumer is simultaneously attempting to correct billing mistakes or waiting for providers and insurers to resolve the medical disputes. For example, older consumers report frequent and repeated attempts to collect medical bills already covered by insurance. Another common complaint from older consumers is first learning about an overdue bill from checking their credit report.
· Collectors attempting to collect on debts of deceased family members: Older consumers describe collectors’ repeated attempts to collect debts of deceased family members. Many of the consumers complained that debt collectors continue to call or send collection letters after they have informed debt collectors that they are not personally responsible for the debt, or that there is no money left in the deceased borrower’s estate. Some complaints describe collection attempts made years after probate is concluded. Many consumers express anguish about collectors ignoring their requests to cease attempts to collect the debt of a deceased relative.
· Collectors illegally threatening to garnish an older American’s federal benefits: Older consumers report debt collectors sometimes threaten to garnish Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or Veterans’ benefits, even though these funds ordinarily are not subject to garnishment by collectors. According to the complaints, these threats cause older consumers significant distress, especially when they rely on federal benefits to pay essential living costs.
Go here for the agency's advice on how to deal with these problems.