Elderly people who reside in Pennsylvania and across the nation are increasingly falling prey to harassing debt collectors, some of whom may be using illegal methods in their attempts to collect the debt, according to a recent report. To keep from becoming a victim to an over-bearing debt collector who may be trying to make a profit off them, seniors who feel threatened should be aware of their rights.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a growing number of seniors have submitted complaints regarding debt collectors who call and try to pressure them into making payments by illegally threatening to garnish their income. However, many seniors could be judgment proof, which means that a debt collector is not legally allowed to collect from federal benefits such as a government pension or Social Security if that is their only source of income and if they are not homeowners. Debt collectors will usually conceal this information from the person.
Moreover, when a senior citizen's federal funds are directly deposited into his or her financial institution such as a bank or a credit union, the money is instantly protected for at least two months. Government funds via prepaid cards are also protected from collectors. In protecting themselves, seniors should make sure the information about the debt is correct because oftentimes they are mistakenly charged for someone else's debt. If the debt is not theirs or is inaccurate, they should persist in disputing the charge. Additionally, any debt collector who is using inappropriate and offensive language or is intimidating should be stopped.
Anyone faced with intimidating and rude debt collectors may benefit by consulting a Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyer who may be able to explain their legal rights and what options they have in eliminating their medical debts or bills. Filing for bankruptcy is one option that will automatically wipe out most debts.
Source: NBC News, "Debt Collectors Hound Millions of Retired Americans", Herb Weisbaum, December 20, 2014