A new report from Herb Weisbaum at NBC reveals the major problems debt collectors are causing for a huge number of seniors. With 42 million Americans in debt for medical bills, and 35% of Americans with accounts in collection, it's not hard to suppose that a lot of them are seniors. But the depth of the industry's dealings with seniors is extraordinary.
One person interviewed for the article, Michael, tells his story of dealing with collectors. Something that both he and the article seem to miss is that many of the collection tactics he is describing are illegal.
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.
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