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I returned a call from a collection agency on the answering machine. I told the woman who answered why I was calling. She said that she knew that mom had passed away but that she could not talk to me about why they calling because of privacy reasons. She said that in order to talk to me I had to send them the paperwork that showed that I am the Exucator/Trustee of the Family Trust. This seems backwards to me. I want to see a valid invoice and or bill that has not been paid so that I can validate the payment. I want to see that said bill has been submitted to insurance already and now has a balance due. Over the past 3 years we cleared all of mom's bills that were outstanding and nothing has come in the mail except medical bills, property tax bills, water and electric bills, all that were paid and up to date. Am I missing something here? Do I have it right to ask for a copy of what they are calling about?

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My friend had a call from someone representing themselves as the Cemetary that they just so happen to be going to the next day. The caller told her that there was an outstanding bill due. Thing was is that it had been 1 year that their loved had died and they just purchased the tomb that they were going to be placing the ashes in the day before. She told them that she would stop by the vice the next day, they hung up. She did say that had they called back when their loved one had died she probably would have complied because she was overhelmed at that time.
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Oh, and BTW, as I recall the permitted hours of calling under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the legal calling hours are between 9 am and 9 pm, not that aggressive debt collectors honor that.
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AR:

1. Was an obituary published that identified relatives? Anything else that would have been public and searchable on any kind of data base? I doubt it but it's posssible they might also have been searching funeral home websites for obituary and funeral listings. If she died in a larger town, that would be cumbersome, but in a small town it would be easier.

2. Have any Probate documents been filed, and if so, are you listed?

3. There are various Internet sites purporting to link people who are related. Some are accurate; others are not.

One linked my mother to my sister's address; there was only one medical professional who contacted my mother at my sister's address. So somehow, there was either a breach of information or someone had access to medical records.

Was this a medical debt?

4. Did you alert whoever's handling your SIL's estate, if any?

What surprises me that is that your SIL has only just recently died. Someone is very aggressive about collecting a debt. This is VERY eggregious and offensive.

5. You have no obligation to talk to a debt collector or provide any information.

I'd be tempted to make a smart aleck remark, such as telling them to contact St. Peter but I don't have the number to the Pearly Gates.
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My sister-in-law died not quite a month ago. This morning at 8:05 a.m. I received a phone call from a person that identified herself from a place called Ascension Point asking me how they could contact who was in charge of her estate about an outstanding debt. I took some information and would relay to the appropriate person. I was shocked they called me. I googled the name of the company and found it was a collection agency that targets dead person's debts for collection purposes. My sister-in-law died June 26 2016. It hasn't even been a month. I never heard of such horrendous bottom feeder tactics. I am no sure what to do about this situation or what to say if they dare call me back again.
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I just saw that too! Even more so now I will stick to my guns and not pay anybody who calls from a collection agency!
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Just watched a very interesting tv spot by a talk show host who explains exactly how these debt buyers work - then he started his own "company", just to show how it works - bought $15 million in medical debts that belonged to over 9,000 people, and forgave it! (Yes, not kidding - he legally bought the debt, and then forgave it, so 9,000 lucky people have had their debt forgiven.)

Search on John Oliver Forgives Medical Debt for the story. He's got a bit of a mouth on him (it's a Rolling Stone article, after all), but seriously, this guy is pretty awesome, and he does a great job of explaining exactly how these scum debt buyers work!
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And said that they will excuse the em singing portion of the bill.
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Believe me these collection callers are not going to get a dime from me! I know what bills still have not come in. I realize that if I give out any information then there is nothing from stopping them from printing up some bogus bill and demanding that we pay up. I always check to see that when a bill is received that I verify that it went through mom's insurance first by calling them. If they have no record of denial of payment or receiving a bill then I do not pay. Today was the first time that I spoke with a patient advocate and asked that we not be responsible for the remaining hospital bill since 2 lawyers agreed that we do have a case for wrongful death action against the hospital. Just the fact that the nurse told me that she caught mom trying to get out of bed 3x and did not follow hospital protocol of having someone in the room with her at night or even
put all of the side rails up was enough of acknowledgement that confirmed their fault. They found mom on the floor the next time they check in on her, she had hit her head! They accepted a copy of her death certificate which stated TTP as her cause of death.
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Rainmom, I have to admit to taking a certain evil pleasure in that idea.....

The illegitimate collectors - the ones that are trying to collect something that they have no business attempting - those are the ones I'd do that to. I have no problem with legitimate collectors trying to do their jobs, and I'll pay whatever bill I owe - but when they try to collect on something I don't owe, because it's been paid off - or because it's not even my debt (like Mom's medical bills, which Medicaid is supposed to be paying) - that's when I get nasty.
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Thanks GardenArtist. I can't take credit for it - it was all him. Which was a complete surprise to me when he came up with the idea - this is the most kind, generous man I've ever know! Guess the old "still waters run deep" applies to my DH!
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RainMom - that's a great idea. If I ever get calls from debt collectors, I'll tell them to call that person at another number. And I'll give them the number to the scam pay day loan places that have been creeping out of the woodwork lately. Or maybe the number for the back brace solicitors, or the medic alert salespeople. Or maybe the FTC.
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Hubby and I had a similar problem with his mother. MIL was a grifter and a "sueing Sally" - very unscrupulous. At the time she was admitted to a nursing home she was very ill with cancer. MIL had no assets and a ton of debt. Debt collectors called us night and day - actually would tell hubby he was legally responsible for her debt, which is not true - but they'll say anything to get someone to pay. Still my husband choose to pay her debts as he felt it was the right thing to do. All was quiet for some time - but then MIL passed and the phone started ringing again. Since we knew we had paid all MILs "current" legitimate debts - my easygoing hubby got pretty annoyed after a while. So - when we would get the calls hubby would tell them to contact MIL directly and give them a phone number. It was the phone number to the cemetery. Probably wasn't a nice thing to do to the cemetery employees but it gave hubby a small measure of satisfaction- and we never hear from those debt collectors again.
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There are *many* unscrupulous - and downright illegal - debt collection companies out there now. Your first red flag is when they call and don't give you the "this is an attempt to collect a debt..." speech right off the bat. As Eyerishlass said, that's required by the FDCPA, and any legitimate collection agency will follow it. If they don't give you that speech, you may be dealing with what I call "bottom feeding scum suckers" - they buy up old debts for pennies on the dollar from previous collection agencies and try to collect on them again. These debts may already be paid in full, or they may be out of the statute of limitations for collection (varies from state to state). That's where collection on debts for a deceased person comes into play. These companies are looking to make a quick profit on an uncollectible debt, and they are relying on your ignorance of your loved one's finances (or your own) in order to get it.

Do your due diligence. Demand validation of the debt in writing. Don't pay anything on it or make any agreements to pay by phone until you know 100% the debt is valid.
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When I was in my 20's, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I worked for a 3rd party collection agency and yes, we were told about the Fair Debt Collections Act and given our rehearsed speech about "this is an attempt to collect to debt...." but we were also slyly encouraged by our managers to tiptoe outside those boundaries. We'd be on the phone with a debtor and we'd get real low in our chair so no one could hear. Some people would actually practically crawl under their desks to avoid being overheard. I didn't work there long, it wasn't for me, but over the years I have come across legitimate 3rd party collectors who ARE on the up and up and DO want to help someone pay off their debt. But be wary of the ones who seem slippery.
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I was even told by the Clerk of the Court in the county where my mother lived that I did not have to publish a "death notice" since everything is in the trust. Moms will had everything she had listed to be put into the now irrevocable Trust. She missed 1 small matured POD savings bond that was my brothers which caused me have to open a "small estate" with the courthouse which they are not having me publish. If the collection agency was worth it salt they would know to contact the county courthouse and inquire about a will and follow the instructions online how to make a claim against the estate. Am waiting on 3 ambulance bills, and 1 Doctor bill, which I called and asked again for. The only 2 other bills water and electric get paid out of her personal checking account which I had the bank convert to a Trust account so as to keep the same account number and not have to order checks since I still have 100+ blank checks left. I bookmarked your responce so as to refer back to it should they contact us again. Thank you!
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there are freaks out there who steal info and act as collectors for things that arent legit . a collection agency sent me a bill for my mothers last att bill which i know was paid . i wrote them back and told them i needed to see a legitimate billing from att . i never heard back from them again .
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Stop talking to the collection agency at all.
Never confirm the debt!
After all your hard work, the collection agency will just bundle it up and sell it en masse` to the next collection agency.
You don't need the stress.

Sorry for your loss, and for the added stress of these calls.
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Yes, you do, but you can demand it with more force if you let them get to the point of sending a written letter. Then it would governed under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which requires a 30 day response from the alleged debtor. How you address it is to respond in writing within the 30 days, stating that it is not your debt, and challenge the validity of the debt.

You're very responsible in attempting to address the debt through a phone call, but these people are often aggressive, and their actions border on being illegal because they don't comply with the Fair Debt Collection Practices act.

I've found that they distort conversations, and that saying anything to them just gives them a reason to think that harassing someone will produce results.

So don't talk to them on the phone again. Let them send a letter to your mother. I'm assuming you've had her mail forwarded to you, so you'll get any debt collection letter they send.

You can also demand a copy of a judgment if any was entered when you respond to the 30 day letter, which also would include an assertion on their part that the debt will be assumed to be valid if not challenged in writing w/I 30 days. (Send your response by certified mail so you have a receipt.)

What I would do also is to state the validity of the debt hasn't been established, that no documentation has been provided by the collection agency, and unless/until it does, it will be considered an invalid debt.

I'd have to check the statute again to be sure, but it's my recollection that once you challenge the debt, the agency can't harass you. Not all agencies comply with that provision though.

I wouldn't send them ANY paperwork or documentation on your status until they send you a copy of the alleged invoice/statement, etc.
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