At some point in our lives, we all fall behind on our financial obligations, and this can lead us into debt. Although most creditors are sometimes lenient with us when it comes to repayment, and they seem to always be willing to give us time to figure things out, when these debts remain unpaid for too long, they may forward our names to debt collectors.
Now, whether you are dead or alive, it doesn’t really matter. A debt must be repaid, and there are some new debt collections agencies that cater exclusively to the estate of deceased people.
When someone dies, their “estate” is supposed to pay what he owes. If however, the deceased hasn’t lever anything to his name, which means that they do not have an estate, the law states that unsecured loans die with him.
In this review, we look at DCM, a company that deals with deceased debts.
They are headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the company was established in 2006.
DCM has dozens of trained agents, whose work is to call up the dearly departed’s next of kin and ask them if they would like to settle the balance on a credit card or bank loan or even make a final utility bill on their behalf.
Remember that if you are called by DCM to settle a debt for a departed relative, you are not legally obligated to do so, and the debt collectors are not allowed to harass you in any way.
If you choose to help settle the debt, it should be from sheer will and not a responsibility.
Is this a legit company?
If you are ever in the receiving end of a call that is meant to collect on the estate of a deceased person, you will undoubtedly think it is a fake person calling and will want to disconnect immediately.
But, DCM services – Deceased Case Management Services are a legitimate company that was founded in 2006.
It has been listed on BBB as a collection agency, an insurance company, or an attorney or legal firm. This means that they can operate in any of those categories.
They also use Balogh Becker, Ltd., as their alternate business name and operate an alternative website; www.baloghbecker.com. This means that you can be contacted by DCM Services using any of the alternate names.
They currently have an annual revenue of $22 million.
This is probably the only collection agency in the US, whose core business is collecting the estates of the deceased, and this, according to them, is the reason why they succeed.
DCM services offer three levels of service: a self-service desktop application which is also known as the probate finder on demand; a probate one-source or the “full-service solution” for debt recovery of the probate accounts; and a signature service that is similar to Probate One-Source but focuses on both probate and non-probate estates. DCM works on recovering probate debts from providers of healthcare, financial services, credit unions, and also government agencies.
How does this work?
The public feels that this is not a good practice and they condemn it strongly, but, according to debt collection companies, the business of collecting from the departed is slowly booming, and this is a result of improvements in technology and personal databases.
It is very easy to find and discover the properties and estates of the deceased that are still open and in probate. This gives them an opportunity to lay a claim to them for payment.
The new trainees at DCM usually undergo a three weeks training course in what the company fondly calls the “emphatic active listening,” in which they will mix in a comforting air of a funeral director and a nonjudgmental tone of a friend.
What is the success rate?
What helps debt collectors in this process is the sentimentality of the deceased’s relatives. This plays a very big role in the process of collection. Relatives are always loyal, and if you are lucky enough to be a beneficiary, you may feel that it is your duty to help settle the debts.
The success rate, however, isn’t as high as these companies would like it to be.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has received 15 complaints against DCM in the last three years. Four of these complaints have already been closed, and at least 6 of them were closed to the customer’s satisfaction.
Most of the complaints against DCM are about advertising or other sales issues, but you can find some others that have to do with billing and customer services, plus harassment of the family left behind by the deceased.
They have also received complaints from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for attempts to collect unowned debts and sharing improper information. Justia has already listed at least 4 cases against DCM services that are already in civil litigation.
Signs of harassment
As a consumer, you may be surprised to learn that you have got rights against debt collection companies. These rights protect you against harassment, and in fact, you are not liable to the debts of the deceased person if his/her estate cannot cover the debt.
So, if you notice any of the following behavior coming from DCM, you have every right to ask them to cease and desist and if they do not, you can sue under the FDCPA federal rights.
If they keep calling you multiple times a week.
If they are calling you at odd hours such as early morning and late at night.
If they are calling your friends, your boss, and neighbors.
If they are calling you and attempting to collect more than was owed by the deceased.
If they are intimidating you in any way.
If they threaten that they will arrest you.
If they have used any obscene language against you.
How to deal with harassing phone calls from DCM services
This company has been known to harass their clients with calls.
Fortunately, you can write to them a letter and request them to stop calling you.
When you do this, the company must honor your request, and they are mandated to stop calling you immediately.
However, if they feel that the estate of the deceased can settle the debt, then they may proceed to court and sue you for the collection of the debt.
If you lose the lawsuit and they win, they shall receive what is called a civil judgment. This will be against the estate of the deceased.
If you still do not pay the debt after this, they will garnish the wages of the deceased or put a lien on his properties.
It is therefore always advisable to negotiate with them.
It’s never easy receiving a call from a collection agency about a deceased loved one’s account. Not only does it conjure up terrible memories of the deceased person, but it also takes you back to a dark place that you would love to forget. It’s even worse if you were close to the deceased such as a close family member.
So, if this happens, the wisest decision is to either help the collection agency in recovering what they may have owed, or choose not to pay and have their estate cater for the debts.
In most probate hearings, a portion of the deceased person’s estate is normally allocated towards debt settlement, so, there is a likelihood that it shall be taken care of, and if the debt had not been listed, take time to investigate the validity of the claim before paying.
Unfortunately, most people have to deal with such distasteful matters.
Other debt collection agency you may also like to know: