Debt Collection and Older Americans


The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office for Older Americans has released “A snapshot of debt collection complaints submitted by older consumers.”  The CFPB received approximately 25,800 complaints consumers aged 62 or older between July 2013 and September 2014, of which more than one-third concerned debt collection, surpassing complaints about all other consumer issues.

Issues elderly consumers contacted the CFPB about included:

  • Demands for payment of debts not owed;
  • Aggressive communications and abusive language from collectors;
  • Inability to identify the debt being collected;
  • Difficulty obtaining accurate and trustworthy information about alleged debts;
  • Attempts to collect on medical bills covered by insurance or while the consumer is attempting to correct billing mistakes or waiting for providers and insurers to resolve disputes;
  • Attempts to collect debts of deceased family members, even after collectors were told that the surviving consumer is not personally responsible for the debt or that there is no money left in the estate; and
  • Threats of wage and benefit garnishment or arrest and imprisonment if no payment is made.

For elderly consumers who are having troubles with debt collectors, the CFPB website features information on how to get more information about a debt the consumer doesn’t recognize; how to dispute an alleged debt; how stop harassing or offensive calls; and federal benefits and debt collection.

Learn more about our consumer protection services.

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