Wednesday 24 December 2014

Debt Collectors Hound Millions of Retired Americans

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently reported that for older Americans, debt collection is the top complaint. About one out of three complaints submitted to the agency by seniors is about debt collection. The major complaints include being hounded for medical debts currently in dispute, attempts to collect the debts of deceased family members from their relatives, and illegal threats to garnish Social Security and other federal benefits.

Michael, a 77 year-old retiree who lives in the Seattle area (he asked that we not use his last name for privacy reasons) realized he could not pay his credit card bills after he stopped working. So he contacted the two card companies and made payment arrangements that he could handle. That worked for a while, but eventually, they turned it over to collection. The calls started immediately, he said.
“Initially, they were not that aggressive, but over time when I made it clear that I had to abide by the initial payment arrangements that I had made, they would not accept that,” Michael told NBC News. “And then they started to threaten garnishment of my fixed income. I knew that if that happened that I was going to be in a place of real jeopardy.”
Michael was getting as many as four calls a day. He says the collectors told him they were prepared to garnish his Social Security payments. A few threatened him with arrest. He was afraid to answer his phone.
“And these calls would come early in the morning and late at night, and it was always from the point of view of we’re going to get you, no matter what you do,” he recalled. “When you hear that again and again, it becomes a pretty unsettling experience to say the least. The sense of belligerence which they exercise pretty effectively can be very, very scary.”



Debt Collectors Hound Millions of Retired Americans

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