Originally posted 2010-03-17 01:32:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

If your spouse, sibling, child, or parent dies owing a credit card company, or even his or her phone bill, you’re under no legal obligation to pay that bill. But that won’t stop the debt collectors from trying to collect from you.

Debt collectors have always been able to file claims against estates in probate courts – sometimes truthfully, and sometimes with trumped-up charges that only the deceased would know were false.

But for those who die without enough assets to require a formal probate, the human touch is used to attempt collection.

A company called DCM Services in Minneapolis is just one of many that specializes in extracting money from the bereaved. Their clients include companies in banking, automobile finance, retailing, telecommunications, and health care.

DCM trains their new hires for 3 weeks in what the company calls "empathetic active listening," so that they’ll be prepared to sound like they care while they work to collect money you don’t owe. They’ll even transfer the call to a grief counselor if the person appears to be consumed with denial or anger. Then they call back the next week.

They play on sentiment – telling the bereaved that their loved one will "rest so much easier" knowing that his or her debts have been paid. If that doesn’t work, they play on a person’s sense of morality. Most of all, people are made to feel that they are honoring the wishes of their loved ones by paying their debts.

Of course, in the absence of an estate and probate proceedings, the family is under no obligation to pay. The companies say they do disclose that fact, but it isn’t a predominant part of their message. Many pay because they believe that they must.

So what kind of person preys on grief? Not everyone. About half of DCM’s new hires don’t make it past the first 90 days.

For those who do stay, the company provides stress-reducing incentives to help them deal with what they’re doing for a living. They get yoga classes, foosball tables, free snacks, and a masseuse who comes in regularly to work on their heads and necks.

DCM’s chief executive, Steven Farsht, is quoted in the New York Times as saying that his 180-employee firm is providing a service to the economy. Because the financial services industry is in such trouble, he believes that every dollar his firm collects improves their profitability, and thus the economy.

Many consumers – whose taxes have gone to bail out major players in the banking industry – might beg to differ.

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Article Source: ArticleSpan

Filed under: Debt Collection Articles

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