What can I do about creditors harassing me for my parents’ debt?

In last week’s post, we talked about the possibility of inheriting your parents’ debt. While you should not be responsible for anything your parents still owed when they died unless you co-signed on their loan, this does not necessarily stop debt collectors from harassing you. Is there anything that Detroit residents can do to stop unfair or unlawful contact by creditors to collect on a debt that you do not owe?

The Federal Trade Commission points out that debt collectors are prohibited by federal law from using deception, abuse or unfair practices to collect a debt. By lying to you and saying that you are legally obligated to repay your parents’ debt, and that you will be taken to collections or garnished if you do not comply, this may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. However, this tactic could work if they are able to get debtors to repay the money owed without realizing they are not obligated.

Can you put an end to phone calls and letters requesting repayment? According to the FTC, you may simply tell the collection agency over the phone not to call you anymore. To ensure there is a record of your request and that the company complies, it is best to put it in writing. You can send a certified letter to the creditor with a return receipt that shows the company received your letter. Be sure to make a copy of the letter, including the date, before you send it. You may also include a statement that the debt belonged to your parents and that you understand you are not legally obligated to repay.

This information is intended to be useful, but should not replace the advice of a lawyer.