1st Financial Center Sheds Light on Who is Responsible for a Deceased Family Member’s Debts

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Gas prices are drastically climbing to new record highs and countless homeowners cannot handle their mortgage payments, yet one group is paying its bills: the dead. Those who are recently deceased are the newest frontier in debt collecting, and one of the highest parts of the credit industry. “While relatives and friends are grieving over a loss, many specially trained debt collection agents are on the prowl contacting their next of kin, kindly asking if they want to settle the balance on an outstanding debt.” states 1st Financial Center’s Chief Advisor.

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Our goal is to educate the consumer so they can be better protected from scams or questionable practices. Most states do not require a surviving relative to pay the debt of a family member who has passed.

With this growing trend expanding, credit card companies are developing strategies in which contacted parties pay off the debt- debt that they may not be responsible for. Improved database technology is making it easier for creditors to discover when estates are opened in the country’s 3000 probate courts. This new technology provides collectors the opportunity to file claims in a timely manner. Meanwhile, collection agents are trained to implement new empathic active listening skills and the five stages of grief, resulting in comforting and nonjudgmental tones.

“Debt collectors are contacting individuals when they are most vulnerable,” states 1st Financial Center’s Chief Advisor. “Our goal is to educate the consumer so they can be better protected from scams or questionable practices. Most states do not require a surviving relative to pay the debt of a family member who has passed.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, surviving family members typically have no legal obligation to pay the debts of relatives who have passed away. Normally, the deceased’s estate is responsible for paying off the debt. If an estate is insolvent, meaning there is not enough in the estate to cover the debt, the debt will typically go unpaid. In fact, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prohibits abusive, unfair and deceptive debt collection practices while protecting the rights of surviving relatives.

Debt collectors use a variety of tactics to convince surviving family members to pay for debt owed by deceased relatives. Family and friends often pay their loved ones debts from a sense of duty or pride, responsibility or dignity, and sometimes guilt. “It’s important for consumers to remember that when an individual dies, any outstanding debt generally is paid from their estate,” states the Chief Advisor with 1st Financial Center. Though there are exceptions in some states regarding debts left behind by husbands and wives, if an individual passes and is the sole account holder, relatives may not have to pay the outstanding debt. On the contrary, individuals may be responsible for a deceased relative’s debt if they somehow are contractually obligated with the creditor. Because debt collection laws vary by state, 1st Financial Center advises consumers to contact a local attorney who is familiar with this area of law to further assist them.

To find out more on how to resolve debt issues contact 1st Financial Center today toll free at (888) 755-4096 or online at http://www.1stfc.com.

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