She makes $700 on SS.

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First thing you should do is what Isthisrealyreal says about your mom calling SS to collect half of dad's SS.
I could advise you better if I knew more information, however, credit card companies Can Not collect from SS. They can take money out of accts if they have acct information, however, they need permission or a judgement to do it, but they are known to do it anyways without permission or judgement. (which is illegal)
Credit card companies can go after any assets your mom has, but first they have to make so many contacts with your mom this means phone calls and letters.
Than they can file for a judgement against your mom.

Here are your mom's rights:
Credit card companies or collectors can only call between the hrs of 8am to 8pm, and they can only call once a day anything more than that is harassment.
They can not use any threat or force. This means they can not say for example, if you don't pay us we will take your house. They can not call you names.
If you find them doing these things record it on your phone or write date, time, name, and what was said. Do not be afraid to tell them you are talking to a lawyer if they are threating you.

Credit card companies & collectors look at collecting like a game they are playing! Who can get the most uncollected money. The more the employees collected on accts the more money they get. So let's say, you owe 1000 (on acct you haven't paid in 6 months) and employee A gets your acct & you pay 50, A gets a % and moves on to anothet acct. Mean while employee B gets a 2500 acct and gets 30 than employee B gets %. By the end of the day, the employees are boasting about how many acct they collected on because the more accts they collect the more money they make. They get a % of each acct plus a bonus for who collected on the most accts. This is to give you a heads up.

The rule I was told to file bankruptcy or not, is anything over 10,000 is to file bankruptcy. Anything under 10,000 try to work it out the the CC companies. Of course, this rule depends on your mom's income, assets, & how much is owned. If there is not a huge amount and not a lot of CCs I would start calling them myself. This is where the negotiations start. Start with trying to get interest, late fees to stop. They will play hard ball so you will have to play hard ball back. DON'T BACKDOWN from them. Don't start off hard put stay firm. Offer to pay amount that your mom can afford, if they push back than ask for a manage or ask them if they are in a position to make decisions, if not, as for a manger. And tell that manager "how she can only pay xx amount every month and that's it. If you get more push back tell them "find my mom will have to file bankruptcy, I am just trying to do the right thing. "Can't. you work with her?

*And whatever you do don't say you will help your mom pay them. That can lock you into paying them. Just don't do it!
If by some chance your mom has no assests, house, CD's, MM accts and don't need credit for anything and is up their in years you have a choice to do nothing! (Can't get blood out of a turnip!) Just putting that out there.

I hope I didn't overload you with information, and whatever you do Do Not get emotional, just be a matter of fact, professional. Stay calm.

I hope this helped. Good Luck!
Helpful Answer (14)
keepingup Nov 2018
Even though this doesn't apply to my situation, you are
FULL of woderful,factual information which everyone, esp. Women. can use. Thank you!
I worked for a credit card company and couples may get confused over what they are responsible for.

Here are some quick explanations-
Joint Applicant- A secondary signatory whose income is calculated into acquiring of unsecured line. The secondary signatory is not the primary guarantor of the account, but is equally responsible for all debt accrued under the line of credit.

Authorized user-A non-secondary signatory whose income is NOT calculated into the acquiring of the unsecured line of credit. The non-secondary signatory or authorized user is allowed access to the account for use, but is NOT guarantor and has NO responsibility to the account.

Ask to see a copy of the application before you pay. Believe it or not there was a time when banks would not issue women credit cards and they were kept to being authorized users on an account.

Unsecured credit is what it is. There is no property behind it. Collectors like to make people believe they can go after the home and car, but they can't
Helpful Answer (10)


If mom is living in your sister's condo and has no assets.
Than this is what I would do, some people here are telling you your mom should pay at least min payment, but once she makes a payment even if it is $1.00 she will be lock in therefore responsible for the dedit. (Which she might be if it is a joint acct.)

Here is a simple solution; send death certificate to all the credit card companies. And leave it at that!
Like I said, if she has no assets, doesn't need credit for anything than just leave it alone!

Yes, they will call and you can tell them that your mom has no money to pay them.
And if any of these credit cards have insurance on them they will collect the insurance money after you send a death certificate to them.
My dad had a credit card in his name only. My mother gave the bank his death certificate and because there was insurance on the card it was paid in full. My dad also had a second card with no insurance. I told my mother to send a death certificate to them, and told her to tell them she had no money, because she didn't and she wasn't going to pay them. The credit card company stop calling after a year.

Let's try to make it as easy as possible for you and your mom.

*Remember credit cards are an unsecured credit. And the companies know this, therefore, they are taking a risk every time they hand out credit!

I know this seems wrong, but your mom is in survival mode, and I'm sorry but if it comes down to a choice between food or paying on credit cards, food wins!

People can say this is unethical & it is, but like I said, " they can't get blood out of a turnip"!

Just my opinion!
Good Luck!
Helpful Answer (8)
Ahmijoy Nov 2018
She will also have to install a “call blocker” on her phone. I use The Robokiller app. The credit companies will do a write off and send it to a collection agency. When the credit companies do this, they will no longer call but the collection agencies will.
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It is unethical to renege on one's debts. Contact the credit card companies and explain the situation, and they will help you figure out a solution. If the person who ran up the debt was mentally incompetent to a certain extent, they might forgive it completely, or they can help you work out a payment plan that your mom can afford. When my dad died, he had not paid off a credit card that I had no idea he even had, so I received a bill for the amount plus a lot of interest. I called the company and explained the situation to them, and they removed all the added interest that had accumulated.

Obviously, if your mom's situation is dire and she (or you, if you can help her out) cannot pay anything, then she will probably have to file bankruptcy. When people do not pay their debts, it increases the cost of borrowing for everyone.
Helpful Answer (7)
IsntEasy Nov 2018
It is unethical to prey upon low income elderly with high interest credit offers. If the lender chooses to lend the money, they are choosing the risk.

Lending is a partnership. The lender has every opportunity to assess the risk before extending the credit. What increases the cost of borrowing for everyone is companies were able to make money from bad debt. Much of it was caused by deregulation and we all paid the price for it. The situation got better with common sense regulation, but now that's under attack again.

I think that not only should the credit card company not be paid back, they should be fined.
If Social Security is her only income, bankruptcy is not necessary. Social Security wages cannot be garnished. I highly recommend finding a Legal Aid office near you. Here in Illinois we have a legal service with a special division for persons over age 60 years that does not charge fees. If you call your local Catholic Charities office, they may be able to give you information on where to obtain free legal help. If credit card companies are calling, she should tell them that her only income is Social Security. She can send a "Cease and Desist" letter to the credit card companies telling them that they can no longer call and harass her. They will understand that they have no recourse other than to write off the debt when they find out all she has is Social Security. They can't touch that. The only thing I'm not sure about is the house. They may be able to put a lien against it but nothing would happen with that until the house is sold. Then the lien has to be paid out of the proceeds from the house. Ask Legal Aid about this.
Helpful Answer (6)

Can you check with social security to see if mom qualifies to collect half of dads ss. This is a one time change that is allowed, so if half of his is more than hers, it could help improve her life.

I would contact the cc company and talk to a supervisor that can help stop the interest and penalties. Then if mom can make small 10 or 15 dollar pmts. I would be very clear that you are trying to avoid bankruptcy so they do get paid. DO NOT give them your information, they will harrass you.

If they won't help, talk to a credit counselor, non-profit, to see if they can help get the interest stopped.

For anyone to take the money from her account they would need a judgment against her and I believe that they CAN NOT take or lien social security.

Best of luck getting this straightened out.
Helpful Answer (5)

Yes, they can come after her for debt he ran up because they were married.

This is what I know but you should double check.

Credit card companies can't seize social security payments so her $700 monthly is safe from them. The government can lien part of Social Security payments for delinquent taxes.

You can:

1) Negotiate settlements with credit card companies--most will settle for 40 to 60% less than what's owed but they want it in a lump. To do this, you call the company and ask to negotiate a settlement. Sometimes they'll adjust the amount downward as time goes by and they get more desperate for you to pay. Mastercard, Visa, Nordstrom, Macy's and almost everybody does settlements--they'd rather get some money back rather than none at all.

2) Stop paying completely. It's upsetting because they'll call a lot and write a lot and then eventually give up and write you off as a loss. The bad debt goes on her credit report and each account shows up for seven years, then falls off. They can't come get you and put you in jail for not paying or slash your tires or publicly humiliate you for your debt. You can tell them to stop calling and/or change your phone number. They can get judgements but it costs money to go to court and if they know you can't pay they probably won't bother unless a particular debt is huge and you have something that can be liened like a house or business.

3) Keep paying the minimums forever.

Your mom has very little money so you might want choice 2. She'll have bad credit but at least she'll still have her SS money. Don't feel too bad for the credit card companies because they build padding into their fees and expect this to happen a certain percentage of the time. They also write off the unpaid debt and that saves them some money on their taxes.

Hope this helps.
Helpful Answer (5)

You received a lot of answers and I didn’t read all of them but I just wanted to encourage you to heed Davina’s answer. If your mom is NOT a co-applicant she is NOT responsible for his credit card debt. (I don’t think it matters what state she lives in but I’m not 100% sure if that.)

When my husband died I did pay his credit card debt only because I was able to at the time. However, if I hadn’t been able to pay it I wouldn’t have lost any sleep over leaving it unpaid.

I have been told that credit card companies are, or were at one time, very aggressive and threatening when it came to insisting spouses be responsible for outstanding debt. Please don’t let your mom be intimidated into paying off debt that’s not hers.
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I just want to say I'm sure that authorized users are not responsible for credit card debt in all states. Depending on the state, spouses may be liable for debts incurred during the marriage. But if you have no money, you have no money. Don't make payments. Get Robokiller or Nomorobo on your phone.

Even if your mom lives in a state where spouses are not responsible for debts do not ignore any court summonses. Respond properly to those. But otherwise, ignore the credit card companies and debt collectors.
If the credit card debt is joint, yes it is likely that now it’s your mother’s issue. If she really has nothing and the debts are substantial, bankruptcy is probably the way to go. She would keep most of her personal effects, bankruptcy isn’t destitution. However another option is that some creditors will agree to a compromise if they are told (firmly) that she will take bankruptcy if they don’t. For example, they might write off half the debt, and agree that she will pay the remainder in small installments. It may be a bad idea to go to a ‘financial advisor’ or ‘debt consolidator’. They are usually paid by the creditors, so for example they don’t recommend bankruptcy even if it is the most sensible option. If you can find a non-profit financial advice service run by a welfare agency, they might help to negotiate a settlement. ‘Inherited debt’ is a big problem for women, though usually it’s divorce related. If bankruptcy is the sensible answer, try not to let her turn it down out of ‘shame’. It isn’t her shame, and the chances are that no-one she knows will hear anything about it.
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No, she absolutely cannot be arrested for the debt! You can find laws and articles adressing this on the internet, print them out in large size and give them to her to see for herself. (If they could arrest people for debt half the nation would be in jail--the country would fall apart and many children would have no parents.)

Also, she should apply for food stamps, called SNAP in most places now. See her county's website for requirements and application. She's almost sure to quality with her $700 income. (My brother has $900 income and gets $90 a month in food stamps here in Virginia, for instance.)

Good luck!
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