At some point in your life, you might fall behind on a financial obligation, and end up in debt. Although creditors may seem to be lenient when it comes to repayment and are always willing to give you time to figure things out, debt collectors are aggressive in their collection and may not be ready to accommodate your challenges, even when you are dead.
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 dear departed 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.
If you are on the other end of the line of such a call, you do not have a legal obligation to assume the debt of a deceased person even if it is a spouse, a sibling or a parent. They take up the responsibility out of sheer goodwill.
Dead people are the newest frontier in debt collecting, and one of the healthiest parts of the industry. Those who dun the living say that people are so scared and so broke it is difficult to get them to cough up even token payments.
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 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 reaction from the public is that this is a terrible practice and one that should be stopped, but, according to the debt collectors, collecting from the dead is expanding, and due to improved database technology, it is now much easier to discover when the estates are open in the probate courts, which gives them an opportunity to file a timely claim.
If the deceased however did not have a formal estate, they have nothing to file.
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.
For some relatives, paying is pragmatic. The law varies from state to state, but generally, survivors are not required to pay a dead relative’s bills from their assets. In theory, however, collection agencies could go after any property inherited from the deceased.
What is the success rate?
What works when it comes to relatives of the deceased are sentiments. They play a big role in the collection process because some relatives tend to be royal to the specific credit card company or bank that the deceased had a debt with, and as such, they feel a strong sense of morality to repay the debt.
The success rate isn’t as high as the company would like it to be, but, every now and then, they can convince the relatives of a deceased person to pay up the loan, especially if it had been tied to some collateral property.
DCM Services, LLC
7601 Penn Ave S A600
Minneapolis, MN 55423-3645
Telephone: (612) 243-8620
How many complaints have been made against them?
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
It is important to understand that you have rights. As the family of the deceased, you should not be harassed by debt collectors, because it is actually not your responsibility to take up the debts of the deceased. In fact, you are under no legal obligation to do so.
DCM services will use many ways when trying to reach the family of the deceased and demanding that they pay what was owed.
Your rights prohibit the company from using unnecessary force in their collection activities, and as such, you should look out for any of the following signs of harassment:
If you are receiving multiple calls per week from DCM services.
If you are receiving early morning or late night calls.
If you are receiving calls at your place of work.
If they have threatened you with violence, lawsuit, or arrest.
If they have been calling your friends, coworkers or neighbors.
If they have attempted to collect more than what the deceased person owned.
If they are intimidating you.
If criminal accusations have been made towards you.
If they have been using obscene language while talking to you.
If automated robocalls are being made to your phone in an attempt to collect.
How to deal with harassing phone calls from DCM services
DCM has been known to call several times a day attempting to collect on a debt. Your caller ID will show no number at all or a phony telephone number that shall be generated by DCM.
If the call goes to voicemail, you shall receive several minutes of nothing but silence, and when you try to call back, the call shall go unanswered. These calls can go on for up to 2 years, and they may even try to call you at work.
Fortunately, according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), you are allowed to write a letter to DCM and ask them to stop calling you. For most people, this is usually their last resort as they do not know about this rule.
However, DCM has onsite legal counsel that may choose to sue you for collection of a debt. If they no longer feel that you can negotiate with them, they will choose this route, although it is a more costly option to them.
If you end up losing the lawsuit, you shall receive a civil judgment against the estate of the deceased, and if you do not pay the judgment, then you shall eventually have some of their wages garnished or assets seized. This is very serious business, plus, going to court will be costly for you.
So, before deciding to file a cease and desist order against the collection company, it is essential to consider getting professional help from a reputable credit repair company.
What rights do you have?
DCM services collect and service a broad swathe of consumer debts, which include healthcare, property management, financial services, and many more.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a legislation that was passed by Congress to regulate the debt collection industry. This act consists of laws and guidelines that all debt collections agencies must follow to ensure that they do not violate the rights of the consumer.
Here are some of their rules to debt collectors that have been set up by the FDCPA:
They prohibit the use of harmful and unfair tactics when trying to collect a debt.
Debt collectors should not contact anybody who is not the main person that owes the debt.
They shouldn’t threaten you with referral to an attorney, wage garnishment, or harm your credit without an actual intent or act on the threat.
They should not call you at unreasonable times, such as before 8 am, or after 9 pm.
They should not contact you at your place of work if you have specifically asked them not to do so.
They should not place calls to inform on you to your employer or disclose any aspect of your debt to others.
They should not use profane or obscene language during their calls.
They should not send collection letters which appear to be from a government office or a court.
They should not threaten to arrest you if the debt remains unpaid.
In short, it says debt collectors are required to be honest, up-front, and not deceptive. Additionally, it says debt collectors are supposed to treat you with that modicum of respect and dignity that every human being deserves. And yes, the FDCPA is violated just about as often as our drug laws in this country.
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 which 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.
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