News & Resources

Survivors of deceased debtors may suffer consequences

Mar 26, 2012 Mike Garretson

Death-debt collection is an emerging sector in the collection industry, as more agencies are attempting to procure funds from surviving relatives of deceased debtors, the Times Free Press reports. Often called "survivor recovery services," these companies employ data mining techniques to find related parties, urging them to pay because of a moral obligation. What's more, these collectors sometimes work on behalf of grants from well-known banks such as Capital One or Citigroup to target survivors, The Wall Street Journal notes. This way, banks don't have to deal with repercussions of bad public relations that can occur in these scenarios. "The big selling point is that these collectors offer banks a cushion that shields them from actually having to do the gritty work of going after dead people's families," Tony Lloyd, former manager for a Minnesota debt collector, told the news source. The Free Press adds that survivor recovery is likely to become even more lucrative in the coming years as baby boomers with mounting expenses retire in larger numbers. The news source cites Federal Reserve data which found that the median debt level for Americans aged 65 to 74 is $40,000 - up 250 percent from 2001.