Monday, April 2, 2012


Just when you think that financial institutions could not be more creative and ingenious in the ways that they suck the last ounce of blood from human beings, along comes new, lower depths of depravity from these models of heartless pieces of shit out there inhabited by unfeeling, blood sucking Dracula scum bags.

The point of this Blog post and the moral of this story is that you need to:

Cancel your credit card before you die.

Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die! You may wonder how that can be accomplished since dead people generally don't hang out calling the customer service at their credit card company after they are dead.

Apparently those parasites at CitiBank and the other usual suspect dumb Banks don't really care about mere facts that might prevent a dead person from paying their credit card balances. For example:

A lady died this past January and Citibank billed her for February and March annual service fees PLUS finance late charges and monthly fees for her unpaid balance. Citibank REFUSED to do anything in correcting these charges despite numerous calls from the woman's relatives.  The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank.

 Here is the exchange:
Family Member
: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'
: ' The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member
: 'Maybe you should turn it over to collections.'
: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'
Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'
: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'
Family Member
: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'

Citibank : 'Excuse me?'
Family Member
: 'Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?'
: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'
Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member
: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'
: ' The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member
: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'
: (Stammer) 'Are you her lawyer?'
Family Member
: 'No, I'm her great-nephew.' (Lawyer info was given)

'Could you fax us a certificate of death?'
Family Member
: 'Sure.' (Fax number was given)
After they get the fax :

: 'Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'
Family Member
: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.'

Citibank: 'Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.'

Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'
: 'That might help....'
Family Member
: ' Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'
: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'
Family Member
: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet???'

And you wondered why Citibank needed help from the Feds? How can these educated fools be so dumb???. Because they don't care, it's all about money, squeezing the last dime from people. This is deliberately being done as standard bank policy at most financial institutions.

Dead people are the newest frontier in debt collecting, and one of the healthiest parts of the industry. Those who dun the living say that people are so scared and so broke it is difficult to get them to cough up even token payments.

Collecting from the dead, however, is expanding. Improved database technology is making it easier to discover when estates are opened in the country’s 3,000 probate courts, giving collectors an opportunity to file timely claims. But if there is no formal estate and thus nothing to file against, the human touch comes into play.

For some relatives, paying is pragmatic. The law varies from state to state, but generally survivors are not required to pay a dead relative’s bills from their own assets. In theory, however, collection agencies could go after any property inherited from the deceased.

But sentiment also plays a large role, the agencies say. Some relatives are loyal to the credit card or bank in question. Some feel a strong sense of morality, that all debts should be paid. Most of all, people feel they are honoring the wishes of their loved ones.

“In times of illness and death, the hierarchy of debts is adjusted,” said Michael Ginsberg of Kaulkin Ginsberg, a consulting company to the debt collection industry. “We do our best to make sure our doctor is paid, because we might need him again. And we want the dead to rest easy, knowing their obligations are taken care of.”

Finally, of course, some of those who pay a dead relative’s debts are unaware they may have no legal obligation.


Weltman of Weltman, Weinberg &  Reis, a Cleveland law firm that performs deceased collections, says that if family members ask, “we definitely tell them” they have no legal obligation to pay. “But is it disclosed upfront — ‘Mr. Smith, you definitely don’t owe the money’? It’s not that blunt.”

The companies “want to protect their brand,” said DCM’s chief executive, Steven Farsht. Despite the delicacy of such collections, he says his 180-employee firm is providing a service to the economy. “The financial services industry is under a tremendous amount of pressure, and every dollar we collect improves their profitability,” he said. 
( "A service to the economy indeed", you make me puke Mr.  CEO" dollar profitability Farsht-AKA "FULL OF SHIT, you are an evil piece of work with no soul as you prey on the dead, their families, and rationalize it as only a piece of shit without a conscience like you could).

Some survivors are surprised, and a few are shocked, that they are hearing from a collector. Eric Frenchman, an online consultant, said a collection agent inquired about his late father’s $50 Discover card balance before the bill was even due. Since Mr. Frenchman had been planning to pay it anyway, he emerged from the experience vowing never to get a Discover card himself.

Benjamin Franklin said, "The only things certain in life are death and taxes." I'm not so sure about that. I think we can add the collection of credit card debt from the dead to this famous quote and modernize it to reflect how low society has sunk into a new form of extracting the last pieces of human 'flesh' from those that have left  this world

I think it's also pretty certain that at this income tax time of the year's annual ritual, you'll find the following quotations about Death and Taxes as truly appropriate in today's "civilized society":

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." - attributed to Albert Einstein.

"If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is with representation."- Farmer's Almanac.

"The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward." - John Maynard Keynes.

"Death and taxes may be certain, but we don't have to die every year." -Unknown.

"If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the UP button." 

Sam Levenson.

"Optimist: Someone who sets aside two hours to do his income tax return." - Unknown.

"I wouldn't mind paying taxes, if I knew they were going to a friendly country." - Dick Gregory.

"Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today." - Herman Wouk.

"Tax reform means, 'Don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.'" - Russell Long.

"The way taxes are, you might as well marry for love." - Joe E. Lewis.

"I don't mind dying, the trouble is you feel so bloody stiff the next day." - George Axlerod.

"It used to be that death and taxes alone were inevitable. Now there's shipping and handling." - Bert Murray.

"The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has." - Will Rogers.

"The taxpayer, that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination." - Ronald Reagan.

"People who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes: men and women." - Unknown.

"On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done as easily lying down." -Woody Allen.

Nobody wants to remember a deceased family member by the debt they left behind, but many creditors certainly make it difficult to forget. Denise Townley was appalled when she received a letter from her mother's credit card issuer less than two weeks after her mother passed away.


"We have recently learned that [your mother], a valued Discover Card customer, has passed away. Please accept our sincere apologies," stated the letter from Discover, which Townley sent to CNN Money.

It then offered her or another family member the "opportunity" to assume the balance on her mother's credit card and offered a special introductory APR of 0% for the first six months (the APR would increase to 13.24% after that). If Townley wasn't interested in taking over the account, then the bank wished to discuss how the estate planned to pay off her mother's credit card balance.
Confused and concerned that she was on the hook for her mother's debt, Townley called Discover. When she asked a probate specialist there how they knew her mother had passed away, she was told that Social Security furnished the information.

"I find this not only ethically abhorrent, but also irresponsible and insensitive on both parties' parts," said Townley. But while it may be "ethically abhorrent," it's not illegal. 

Banks are within their rights to seek payment for debts owed by a deceased borrower, and the estate is liable for the debt if it has enough money.

"We understand that settling the affairs of loved ones is difficult," a Discover spokesman said. When contacting family members about the unpaid debts of deceased card members, Discover states upfront that payments on behalf of a deceased relative are voluntary, not required, he added.

Financial institutions typically receive notice of a person's passing from the Social Security Administration within a month or two, according to a recent review of the agency conducted by the Social Security Administration's Office of the Inspector General. 

Yet, in some cases, banks find out even earlier than that.
Because it's likely the deceased carried multiple debts, creditors often race to be the first to collect money from the next of kin or the estate before it has all dried up, said Gerri Detweiler, a debt specialist at credit card research and comparison site

"The longer a creditor waits to get paid, the less their chance of getting paid," she said. "And unfortunately, they may find that it's easiest to elicit payment when bereaved relatives are still trying to sort everything out."

During her husband's wake, Deborah Crabtree said she had set up an answering machine and put it on speaker phone so that loved ones could leave their condolences, according to the complaint she filed against Bank of America.

But instead of hearing only the voices of friends and family come through the speakers, she said a debt collector from Bank of America Home Loan Servicing called every 15 minutes and left harassing messages about the debts her husband had left behind that everyone in the house could hear.

Even after the wake, Crabtree said Bank of America collectors called her as many as 48 times a day and even threatened to foreclose on her home, according to a lawsuit she filed last month against the bank.

Crabtree, who lives in Honolulu, said she had told the bank that she would pay the debt as soon as she received her husband's life insurance check. However, the agents told her that since the calls were computer generated they couldn't stop them until the debt was paid. 
Crabtree's lawsuit claims that Bank of America violated state debt collection laws. Her lawyer, Gary Shigemura, said the bank has not yet responded in court.

For its part, Bank of America declined to comment on the particular case, but a spokeswoman said that in general, the bank informs family members when they aren't responsible for the debt of a deceased relative.

The Federal Trade Commission recently declined to impose a "cooling off" period after a death, during which creditors wouldn't be allowed to go after a debt.

The FTC said it was unnecessary, since its rules under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act already prohibit third-party debt collectors from collecting debts at "inconvenient times" and harassing customers.

Yet, the FTC only governs third-party debt collectors, not the banks which are regulated by individual states. And while many of the states have laws similar to the FTC's, the terms "harassment" and "inconvenient times" can be interpreted very differently by consumers and creditors, said Detweiler.

Do you owe money for the deceased's debt?

Often mourners don't have enough time to grieve their loss, let alone assess the debts owed by the deceased and whether or not they're on the hook to pay for it.

Some debt collectors make family members feel responsible for debt owed by the deceased by asking them questions about whether they were the one who paid for the funeral or took care of other business related to the person's death, said Detweiler."They don't necessarily state that you are liable for the debt, but they blur the lines to make you feel like somehow you are responsible for it, even if it's just a moral responsibility," she said.

As the executor of the estate, you can request the credit card balance of the deceased's account. Under a provision of the new CARD Act, the issuer has 30 days to provide the balances and can't charge any penalty fees or interest if you or the estate pays off the balance within 30 days after it provides that information.


If the estate doesn't have enough money in it to pay the debt, the creditor is often out of luck.
Despite the banking industry’s glowing testimony, collection agencies are little more than white-collar thugs for hire. As Tony Lloyd, a former manager for debt collector DCM Services LLC of Minneapolis told the Wall Street Journal, “The big selling point is that these collectors offer banks a cushion that shields them from actually having to do the gritty work of going after dead people’s families.” Their recovery strategies typically involve using condolences to coax money out of a grieving widow or anyone else that seems vulnerable.

Carole Brady Fleet, grief counselor and author of “Widows Wear Stilettos,” knows the process all too well. She began receiving calls from collectors less than a month after her husband died. After expressing sympathy that her husband had passed, they told her that she was responsible for all of the debts in his name including ones he had accumulated years before the marriage. They asked if she had any life insurance or other assets she could use to pay off his balances. When she said she didn’t, they threatened to sue. “These are people who were trying to take advantage of someone who was at their most vulnerable in every physical and emotional sense,” she says. “They were counting on that vulnerability to resolve their debt crisis, which is deplorable.”

If the victim isn’t humiliated into paying, the collectors will threaten wage garnishment or home liens. According to Fleet, some agencies even send letters on legal letterhead to trick the mourning survivors into believing they’re being sued.

Worst of all, the incidents are far from isolated. According to court documents, Nordstrom, Citigroup, Wells Fargo Co., J.P. Morgan Chase and Discover Financial Services have all been identified as clients of firms that collect dead people’s debts. While many corporate spokesmen swear that their banks never pursue debt from family members who aren’t obligated to pay it, the growing number of pending lawsuits against debt collection agencies and the banks they represent suggests otherwise. 

Business is Booming

Collecting debt from the dead, as an industry, is growing. When you consider that many collection agencies stand to make 40-50% of their gathered debt in commission, it only makes sense. DCM Services LLC of Golden Valley, one of the largest collection agencies in the country, was one of many companies to expand their workforce last year. In their interviews, they tell prospective employees that they can expect two free breakfasts a week, flexible work hours, access to an exercise room, 15-minute massages at their desks and a $1,000 bonus after six months. 

All they ask in exchange is that these new executives collect at least $60,000 a month from a contact list that includes the family members of deceased debtors.

Another collection agency, CFS II, recently announced its intentions to expand nationwide. In a press release, the company praises the economic downturn for creating 10,000 new jobs in an industry that preys upon people whose lives were ruined by it.

And these companies are doing more than just expanding. They’re also developing new schemes to make themselves that much more believable. These days, collection agencies know that the odds of fleecing a widow for the full amount of her husband’s debt are low, so they come out of the gate offering a “compromise.” Instead of covering his full balance, she can either give up his life insurance policy or pay $25 a month and then hand over their next tax return. After that, the collection agencies are willing to forget the whole thing ever happened. 

My advice is to BE PROACTIVE-FIGHT BACK, YOU HAVE RIGHTS!!! It’s up to the family members of the deceased to assert their rights. Since collectors are not legally allowed to harass you, it only takes a certified letter threatening a lawsuit to get the vultures to stop circling. “Many times, banks and collection agencies count on the fact that you are too distressed to fight or argue,” she says. “The last thing banks expect is an angry missive that asserts your rights and threatens to report them to both the Federal Trade Commission and to the media.”

The banking industry’s habit of illegally harassing the family members of deceased debtors has barely been touched by the media, and it’s been largely ignored by the government. For every Linda Long in the headlines, there are thousands of widows who fall for a collection agency’s tricks and give up money that they desperately need to keep themselves out of debt. The banking industry is in total denial. It won’t admit that its hounding is only perpetuating the problem, and it will continue to operate in blissful ignorance of the havoc it wreaks until someone speaks up.

Dwindling retirement savings, falling home values and high unemployment mean that more Americans are dying while still in debt, says Sally Hurme, an elder-law lawyer with AARP, an advocacy group for people 50 or older. Debt among Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 is growing faster than for any other age group, according to the Federal Reserve. 

As of 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, the median debt level of that age group was $40,130, up from $27,458 in 2004. Research group Strategic Business Insights' Macromonitor conducted a separate survey and found that households headed by Americans 75 and older carried an average of $7,200 in credit-card debt in 2010, more than triple the 2008 level.
Not much to look forward to in your "golden years", except for the buzzards who will profit in dollars from the misery of the grief in the loss of a loved family member.