Debt Collection Harassment
The law ruled on the side of a Florida woman against the overwhelming debt collection tactics of one of the industry’s biggest corporations, Bank of America. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Florida judge ruled that Bank of America and the company it hired to collect debts, West Asset Management, engaged in debt collection attempts that amount to harassment. Allegedly, 68-year-old Linda Long was called as many as ten times per day in an attempt to get her to pay her deceased husband’s outstanding credit card debt. As with most cases involving surviving family members, the law did not require Long to pay her deceased husband’s remaining debts.
Attempting to morally pressure surviving family members into paying outstanding balances appears to be a common practice in the debt collection industry.
Linda Long’s husband, Millard, died of colon cancer last year with a $16,651.52 balance on his Bank of America credit card. Bank of America outsourced their debt collection to West Asset Management, a unit of West Corp. The agency allegedly called her as many as ten times per day, attempting to get her to pay all or a portion of her deceased husband’s remaining debts. Attempting to dupe or morally pressure surviving family members into paying outstanding balances appears to be a common practice in the debt collection industry, and there are agencies that specialize specifically in this practice. The ruling by Lee County Judge Keith R. Kyle opens the door for Long to seek punitive damages from both corporations.
Attorney Billy Howard, founder of the Consumer Protection Department at Morgan & Morgan, was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal speaking on the same subject and served as the attorney representing Mrs. Long. He commented on the practice of collection attempts against surviving family members, saying: “Collectors are starting to realize just how much money you can get from someone when they are at their most vulnerable.” In most situations though, surviving family members are not obligated to pay the debts of deceased loved ones, unless they co-signed on a credit card, mortgage or other type of loan. Many family members believe they have to pay back some of the debt, and this trend keeps the collectors calling.
Many debt collection tactics can disrupt an individual’s mental state, privacy, sense of security, and their family life. If you feel that you have been a victim of oppressive debt collection techniques, contact a dedicated debt harassment attorney to see if it is possible to not only end the harassment, but also collect remuneration for your ordeal. It may be possible to enter into a lawsuit against the debt collection agency and/or debt holder to pursue compensation for the harm caused to you and your family.