Debt collection laws to help seniors avoid abuse & harassment
Debt among the elderly has been on the rise for some time. Some people inherit debt from their parents, such as mortgages. In contrast, others acquire debt later in life due to everyday expenses, medical bills, or even student loans.
Burdened with debt, they look to payday loan lenders or credit card companies when they have no other option to cover their expenses. Now they are piled with more debt, and they don’t have the proper means to pay it back. With no information about how to get payday loan help or credit card debt relief, they constantly get harassed. Often times mistreated by the creditors, with no way to lessen the burden the debt has caused them.
Going into debt at an age like this is already stressful, and they are then being subjected to harassing phone calls and letters. With age our cognitive functions diminish day by day. Which, means older adults are more likely to be taken advantage of by these debt collectors.
Debt collection laws for the elderly
Debt collectors use inhumane methods to get their money back. It can sometimes be stressful for the debtors. These debt collectors don’t see how old a person is. They just constantly keep calling. Or, keep sending threatening letters to force the debtors to pay their installments.
Here are a few laws that debt collectors sometimes don’t follow to collect their payments unlawfully.
- Garnishment of retirement benefits:
Debt collectors often try to get older people to pay their debts by threatening to garnish their retirement benefits. Debt collectors aren’t allowed to take Social Security money from people who owe them money. Also, most retirement accounts aren’t subject to garnishment because of unpaid debts. Some debt collectors say they will file a lawsuit to win a judgment against them and garnish income as an extra punishment. Please keep in mind that this is illegal and would never be approved by a court.
- Verbal abuse:
Debt collectors are often rude and mean to older people, and they think that older people don’t know their legal rights to fair debt collection. Collectors are prohibited from using harsh or obscene language. It’s also crucial to note that debt collectors have tried to take advantage of senior citizens with cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Pretending to be a government official:
Debt collectors impersonate government officials to intimidate people into paying them, which is an illegal tactic. According to the FDCPA, it is illegal for debt collectors to pose as employees of any government body. This includes impersonating law enforcement agencies. Additionally, they cannot claim to be employed by a consumer reporting organization.
- Pursuing debt after the debtor’s death:
A debt collector cannot pursue repayment from the surviving spouse unless they co-signed the loan or consented to be personally accountable for the obligation. Unfortunately, many debt collectors try to take advantage of a person’s lack of information in this area. They mislead the grieving spouse into making a payment under the mistaken notion that they are liable for the debt.
- Threatening imprisonment for crimes not committed:
Some collectors also threaten individuals by telling them they would have them arrested for not paying back their loans. Collection agencies are not permitted to fraudulently assert that you have committed an offense. They also can’t tell you that you’ll face arrest if you do not repay the money they claim you owe. The agencies are not allowed to file arrest warrants or place you in jail. Additionally, failing to settle a credit card debt, mortgage, vehicle loan, or medical payment on time does not result in imprisonment.
- Collecting debt payments even after the time limit is over:
Debt collectors and creditors have a limited time to pursue legal action to recover an unpaid debt. This time limit is referred to as the “statute of limitations.” When the statute of limitations period runs out, a debt collector is barred from suing to recover the debt. This signifies that the obligation has become “time-barred.” Unfortunately, some debt collectors may press on and try to collect on an old, time-barred obligation in the hopes that you would not ask them about the bill’s actual age.
- Provide incorrect information to gain money from you:
Some debt collectors will intentionally or unintentionally mislead you to gain money from you. It’s possible that the original creditor may have sold your debt to a collection agency, which may have transferred it to another collection agency. A blunder made along the route may have resulted in the collector contacting you with inaccurate details.
If you are being harassed and treated like this, please understand that you do not have to suffer through all this. You have the rights. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act, debt collectors are prohibited from threatening or badgering you or your loved ones.
Always demand information before taking any other step. A debt collector should also provide you with a written notification first. They should outline how much, who you owe, and how to make your payment within five days of first contacting you. You may need to prod them to do this. Senior citizens who are bullied and intimidated by debt collectors have rights and should not be subjected to such treatment in their golden years.