Paul Kelleher had the hard task of calling his mother’s creditors after she passed away last month from cancer. Although not easy to do the calls were routine until Kelleher got to his mother’s Bank of America card.
TPMmuckraker reports the call between the bank rep and Mr. Kelleher, 30.
Paul Kelleher: Yes, I’m calling to inform you that my mom died on the 24th of January.
Bank of America Estates representative: I’m sorry. Oh, it looks like she never even missed a payment. That’s too bad. Well, how are you planning to take care of her balance?
PK: I’m not going to. She has no estate to speak of, but you should feel free to just go through the standard probate procedure. I’m certainly not legally obligated to pay for her.
BOA: You mean you’re not going to help her out?
PK: I wouldn’t be helping her out — she’s dead. I’d be helping you out.
BOA: Oh, that’s really not the way to look at it. I know that if it were my mother, I’d pay it. That’s why we’re in the banking crisis we’re in: banks having to write off defaulted loans.
The bank rep continued to try to get Kelleher to pay his mother’s bill alternating between saying he was legally and morally responsible. The truth is neither is the case. Kelleher talked to the rep’s supervisor who apologized but it was unclear what for.
TPMmuckraker researched to see if this was standard policy. They were informed that it is. Employees that are responsible for collections are encouraged to get the money as long as they don’t lie outright. Those messages that your call is being recorded aren’t for you, they are to see if the rep is getting the most money back that they can.
“We were obligated to collect 45 percent of the debt that rolled in to us,” said the former rep, adding that that figure fluctuated. Employees who consistently failed to meet that baseline might be fired. “People lost their jobs all the time for non-performance.”
Reps are issued as much as $5,000 a month in bonuses when they bring in a certain amount of “collectible money.”
Legally the children of a deceased person are not responsible for those debts unless they co-signed for the loans or credit cards. Spouses are a different think. Kelleher did what was required, notifying the creditors but that was the end of his responsibility. When there is an estate that estate is responsible to pay for the debts.