When the grieving process includes bill collectors

My wife’s demons demanded lots of cash, so during our marriage I had plenty of dealings with bill collectors.

In 2005 she hit rock bottom, divorced me and started in with a jackhammer. Last February she committed suicide. The finance company took the car she’d bought, her landlord called the Salvation Army to clean out the apartment.

The bill collectors are looking for someone, somewhere, who can pay. This morning I had to endure a harange from one who insisted “just because someone dies, there are still assets, there is still things of value.” Well, not unless there’s a museum of pawn tickets somewhere that’s willing to pay big bucks to complete its collection.

I know I’m not liable for these debts, but they can’t help but take a pass at me in hope of recovering something, and this becomes painful. I have enough on my plate dealing with twenty years of ups and downs to keep me occupied with emotional grief. I’m in the middle, coming to terms her descent into mental illness on one side, while coping with the cruel mechanics of economic realities on the other.

I’m sure bill collectors are good people who, of course, pay their own bills and taxes and cherish their loved ones, and who do a job that needs to be done. I’m also sure that being an asshole is required to do that job.

Surely there is a way to tell them to leave you alone in such a way that you get some peace to work through your sorrow? My condolences.

Sorry, but I don’t understand this term:

I think he means that his wife, who was at rock bottom, began working herself deeper somehow. She stubbornly continued with her detrimental behavior, even though she was so deeply entrenched she had “hit bedrock”.

{{{Slithy Tove}}}

You have my condolences. Losing someone to mental illness is devastating.

I am of the honest opinion that most bill collectors have their emotions/empathy removed as part of the training process.

In terms of stopping the phone calls, you might see if the Federal Trade Commission regulations would help: How may a debt collector contact you?
A collector may contact you in person, by mail, telephone, telegram, or fax. However, a debt collector may not contact you at inconvenient times or places, such as before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m., unless you agree. A debt collector also may not contact you at work if the collector knows that your employer disapproves of such contacts.

Can you stop a debt collector from contacting you?
You can stop a debt collector from contacting you by writing a letter to the collector telling them to stop. Once the collector receives your letter, they may not contact you again except to say there will be no further contact or to notify you that the debt collector or the creditor intends to take some specific action. Please note, however, that sending such a letter to a collector does not make the debt go away if you actually owe it. You could still be sued by the debt collector or your original creditor.It’s also possible that Georgia has their own regulations re: debt collection.

Papermache Prince’s suggestion is probably the practical one. But you might possibly respond along these lines: “It appears to me that there are no assets at all. But if you find some, by all means let me know so I can claim my share - my ex-wife owed me a lot of money.”


Tell 'em if they’re willing to dig up the body, they can go through her pockets and look for loose change.

How utterly insensitive.

Seriously, why be polite at all? I would just tell them to fuck right off. If that upsets their delicate sensibilities, well, then maybe they’ll experience just a taste of the shit you’re wading through.

Just say, “Thank you for being so considerate and supportive in my time of grief. I am giving your name to my attorney.”

Then hang up.


When my mother died I got the honor of taking care of the estate, which means dealing with creditors. Most of them were ok, they told me to pay off when I was supposed to. However for some reason one of them sent the bills to a collection agency.

So one day I got a phone call, “Mr. Head”, “Yes”, I said. “Your mother owed $3000, you have to pay this back right now.” I told her I didn’t need to pay her out of my pocket, she insisted that I did. I told her I knew my rights. She told me she would have a lawyer contact me, I told her go ahead. She then asked for my lawyers name, I told her I didn’t have one, but told her to contact the courthouse. She started telling me I would be sued for not paying, I insisted that I knew my rights and I wouldn’t be. She then asked me if I was a lawyer, and when I told her no she said then you don’t know the law.

This went on for a few minutes, then she hung up on me! I was so proud to actually have someone like that hang up on me! I also had another agency try and come after me, but it was past the time, six months, when they could collect from the estate. It was for some $200 bill that they claimed was for $1500, nice amount of extra fees they would collect. After I showed them that they couldn’t collect they finally pissed off.

Sorry you have to go through this, but tell them to either find the estate or bugger off.

My father died six years or so ago. He’d been absent my entire life- I’d seen him once in the previous seventeen years, and I was the one who initiated that visit.

Anyway, when he died, he passed away owing a good amount of money. Because I’d contacted him a year or so before his death, his creditors found me as his next-of-kin. Note that I have at least two half-brothers, whom I have never known and only met once.

I found it fairly amusing to listen to their increasingly strident demands for me to pay off his debts. I got to tell them all the story of how he never paid my mom any child support when I was growing up, and how the only thing he owned of any actual worth at the time of his death was an old beater of a pickup truck, and that I wasn’t going to be inheriting a damn thing from him. I loved asking them why they thought that I should pay off his debts out of my own pocket.

Eventually they realized that they were just going to have to take a loss, and they stopped trying to call me.

As I said, I found it fairly amusing. I can’t imagine being in your situation, Edward.

Er, I meant to say, “I can’t imagine being in your situation, Slithy.”

[SUB]Sorry about that. I’m really, really tired.[/SUB]

The second you realize it’s a bill collector, say “Do not call me again” and hang up. If they call back, ask to speak to their supervisor. Tell the supervisor you don’t want anymore phone calls and hang up.

I used to be in collections, and if it makes you feel any better the reason I am not in collections anymore is because I used to sit in my car before and after work sobbing about my job. I hated it, and I am sure that many of the people that are trying to collect from you hate it just as much as I did.

As far as telling them not to call you anymore, it is only effective if you use the words “cease and desist”. When I was in collections we were told that if someone tells you not to call again to assume that they are in a bad mood and will be in better spirits next time we call. If you say cease and desist they legally cannot call you again, but they may need to ask you a few questions before they can take you out of their auto dialer so don’t just scream at them to cease and desist and hang up. You will still get notices in the mail because they can legally continue to attempt to collect as the money is still owed but they cannot call you after that.

When my grandpa died at home, the ambulance took him to the hospital because the paramedics couldn’t pronounce. Okay, no problem. My dad tells the hospital staff that he is well and truly dead (it had been over 1 hour for sure at that point), and that no measures are to be taken. The staff disagrees and says they “have” to try and revive him. My dad again says no.

Of course, they go ahead and try to reanimate my grandpa, and of course it doesn’t work.

Fast forward about 3 months later, and we get a call from the collections department of the hospital. They want a bill paid for the “lifesaving measures” employed on my grandpa. :smiley: We patiently explain that we did not authorize the treatment, in fact we specifically told the hospital not to do it. They persist and get pretty threatening, telling us that “this will go on his credit report as a delinquency.”

Who fucking cares? He’s dead. Eventually they went away.

I lost my mother six months after she had a stroke. She was paralyzed on her left side, and there was no way I could care for her at home. When her sister (who was a RN) came to visit the day after Mom’s birthday she discovered that Mom had advanced gangrene in her left foot. I had been visiting, but I didn’t know to check her feet! Mom died immediately following an aortal bypass surgery which was to have been followed by amputation of her lef above the knee.

Over a year later, I am married to Mr. SCL and living in Hawaii, where he was stationed in the Army. I got a letter from the nursing home, demanding something like $5000 that Medicaid and insurance hadn’t covered.

I went OFF! I sat down at the trusty typewriter and told them that not only was I not going to pay the money they were demanding, but that if heard one more word from them I was going to go ahead with the wrongful death suit I had been advised to bring against them for failing to provide proper care for my mother.

I never heard another word. Imagine that.

Get used to hanging up.

Bill collectors – good ones – lack empathy, or simply ignore it as part of doing their job. They get cursed at a great deal, they take a lot of flak. It’s part of the job.

Save your time, and theirs. Just hang up.

  1. Like the sound of that “cease and desist” thing.
  2. Got caller ID? Screen your calls.
  3. Normally, I’d suggest fucking with their heads, stringing them along, keeping them on the phone as long as possible (outlast a bill collector? Now, that’s a braggin’ right!), randomly screaming at them, infuriating them with computer keyboard tapping in the background, video game noises, or long silences (they’ll know you’re not listening), etc., but it doesn’t sound like you’re up to it emotionally. So…
  4. Hire a lawyer to get medieval on their asses. You won’t likely hear from them again, but if you do
  5. Be a total dick. You’ll feel better. Leave that “I won’t stoop to their level” shit to blue haired church ladies. That’s their job.