Archive for March, 2009

Debt Collectors Explore a New Frontier: the Dead

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Banks, credit card companies, medical care providers, retailers, and telecommunications companies are searching for new ways to increase their revenues. And it seems they’ve found it – by collecting debts from the deceased.

A debt collection company called DCM Services, which began in 1999 as a law firm, is rapidly expanding its client list as more companies seek to collect debts from the deceased. DCM is but one of several companies now focusing on collecting from the deceased.

In most states, bereaved families are not legally obligated to pay, but that doesn’t stop them from preying on fear, responsibility, and sentiment – while failing to reveal the lack of legal obligation unless specifically asked.

DCM Chief Executive Steven Farsht says his company provides a valuable service to the economy by improving the profitability of companies in the financial services industry. At the same time, contracts with the companies he serves prevent him from revealing their names, because they “want to protect their brands.” Could there be just a hint of shame behind these collections?

Companies have always been able to collect debts from estates – as long as they filed timely claims with the probate court. But probate court is only for those people who have a formal estate – and assets to file against.

Now the creditors are after those individuals who aren’t subject to probate because they died with little or no money in the bank, and no assets to speak of.

How do they go after this money? By monitoring death records and using carefully trained personnel to contact grieving families – and convince them that their dearly departed will rest easier knowing his or her debts have been paid.

At DCM new hires receive three weeks’ training in what the company calls “empathic active listening.” They’re trained to act as the person who cares – while extracting money from individuals who are often nearly destitute.

Top phone agents can convince people whose income barely pays for food to hand over $5, $15, $25 or more per month to clear up their loved one’s debts.

Not everyone is cut out to be a phone solicitor for companies such as DCM. In fact, about half of their new hires don’t make it past 90 days. For those who do stay, the company offers stress-reducing tools such as yoga classes and foosball tables. They also get free snacks and a masseuse who comes in regularly to work on their heads and necks.

Looks like that means shaking down the bereaved isn’t exactly a stress-free job. your resource for free credit report offers and the most current information regarding credit news. We also provide free tips and techniques to repair your credit for free. “Remember your credit report and credit score is more important than ever now.”