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Many retired Americans face harassment by debt collectors

For many people across the country, including some in Wisconsin, debt is a serious matter. Accumulated debt from credit cards, medical bills, student loans and home mortgages can make it hard for people to stay afloat financially. For many people, there is at least monthly earned income from which to pay those bills and meet daily living expenses. However, what about retired Wisconsin residents who also have considerable debt? With limited income, finding debt relief is a bigger challenge. Unfortunately, debt collectors breathing down their necks do not help.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, many retired individuals now face calls from debt collectors at all hours of the day and night; these harassing calls even are made to retirees who have no debt.

Debt collectors are allegedly hounding older citizens for a variety of reasons, including disputed medical debts and debt owed by deceased family members. Some collectors are even making illegal threats to garnish senior citizens' Social Security payments and other federal benefits. Beyond the lack of fair play of these credit harassers is a growing concern about the health condition of elderly victims. The CFPB noted in a recent report that many elderly Americans said harassment by debt collectors was aggravating their medical conditions.

Elderly Americans deserve respect, given how much they have contributed to this country. When debt collectors decide to harass older Americans, corrective action needs to be taken. The first step for any older American, however, is to make sure of the amount of debt that he or she owes and then determine what the best debt relief option will be, given the person's financial circumstances. Because debt relief can be complicated for many older citizens, consulting an attorney who is proficient in the various debt-relief tools available to American consumers may be a wise step.

Source: NBC News, "Debt Collectors Hound Millions of Retired Americans," Herb Weisbaum, Dec. 20, 2014

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