Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Buried Debt

If we were to all make a list of the most despised occupational groups on the planet, it is a safe bet that certain groups would show up on the majority of those lists. They would show on such a large majority of those lists, in fact, that we could almost call them universally despised. I would go so far as to say that, if we made a composite list, the top three would be lawyers, telemarketers, and bill collectors (not necessarily in that order, but it is certainly a possibility). My personal "favorite" would be a hybrid of numbers two and three: the phone calling bill collector, especially the ones who use a computer to make their phone calls so they can't even determine if they are calling or talking to the right person.
Amusingly enough, those bill collectors often have a legitimate claim. Even then, though, their arrogance and heavy-handed manner still usually makes them the lowest form of slime on the face of the Earth. We have all but legitamized the knee-breakers of the past and set them lose upon the population. I came across a news story the other day that demonstrates this fact in prime fashion.
Roco and Laurie Crimeni of New York have been plagued by calls and letters from bill collectors looking to collect on credit card debts. There are two major problems with these collection attempts: 1. The debt is owed by their son, not by them. 2. Their son is dead.
Yes, folks, the bill collectors are harassing them about debts owed by their dead son. Is it any wonder why this is such a hated group?
The son, Vincent, left no estate or assets and, according to his parents, all of the debt in question was exclusively in his name. The collectors have been told by phone, by letter, and by lawyer that Vincent Crimeni is dead, yet still they call. Ordinarily, I am not a big fan of lawsuits, but I am seeing ample grounds in this case.
Here is a simple message to the bill collectors: Roco and Laurie Crimeni do not owe you a dime! When a person dies, it is only common sense that his or her debt dies as well. If there is an estate then there is certainly reason to collect what can be collected from that estate but, when there is no estate, the collector is simply flat out of luck. Someone else does not magically owe you the money just because they happen to be related.
I honestly do not know exactly what the laws say on this matter but I also do not care. If they say anything different than what I have said here then they are wrong, morally, ethically, and by any sense of legal justice. A person who did not sign on for a debt should not ever be legally obligated to that debt and the mere fact of giving birth does not equate to signing on to a debt once that child has become an adult.
Going after the parents for the debt of adult offspring is tantamount to bullying and extortion. Going after those parents in their time of grief when that offspring is dead is like pulling the wings off of butterflies or lighting cats' tails on fire. It is cruel and inhumane and any child caught doing so should be severely reprimanded.

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