Dead People and Credit Cards

Received this as a forward. I don’t know how far this is true… but it sure was fun reading!

Credit Cards

Photo by the Comedian

Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die. This is so priceless, and so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.
A lady died this past January, and The Bank billed her for February March for their annual service charges on her credit card, added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance of $0, is now somewhere around $60. A Family Member placed a call to The Bank.

Here is the exchange:

Family Member: “I am calling to tell you she died in January.”
The Bank: “The account was never closed, and the late fees charges still apply.”
Family Member: “Maybe you should turn it over to collections.”
The Bank: “Since it is 2 months past due, it already has been.”
Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?”
The Bank: “Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau. Maybe both !”
Family Member: “Do you think God will be mad at her?” (I really liked this part !!!!)
The Bank: “Excuse me?”
Family Member: “Did you just get what I was telling you? The part about her being dead?”
The Bank: “Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.” !

(Supervisor gets on the phone)

Family Member: “I’m calling to tell you she died in January.”
The Bank: “The account was never closed, so the late fees and charges still apply.” (This must be a phrase taught by The Bank!)
Family Member: “Do you mean you want to collect from her estate?”
The Bank: (stammering) “Are you her lawyer?”
Family Member: “No, I’m her great-nephew.”
The Bank: “Could you fax us a certificate of death?”
Family Member: “Sure.” (fax number is given)

After they get the fax:
The Bank: “Our system just isn’t set up for death. I don’t know what more I can do to help.”
Family Member: “Well, if you figure it out, great ! If not, you could just keep billing her. I really don’t think she will care.”
The Bank: “Well, the late fees charges do still apply.”
(What is wrong with these people??!!)
Family Member: “Would you like her new billing address?”
The Bank: “Yes, that will help.”
Family Member: ” Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69.”
The Bank: “Sir, that is a cemetery!”
Family Member: “What do you do with dead people on YOUR planet?!!

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  • I’ve heard those stories time and time again. This is another example where the credit card companies need to get their act together. I mean, a zero balance turns into $60! Just imagine if she had a balance. I’m working with the Merchants Payment Coalition and we are trying to shed some light on the credit card industry’s questionable policies and practices. They don’t care about customer service or fees. Visa and Mastercard are making out like bandits on fees alone, such as interchange, which contributes to the increasing cost of products like gas and groceries.

  • Once the company debited a 10th of the amount instead of the actual amount. The next month they charged me overdue interest and a late payment fine. We also have to look into amounts for items that we had never bought.

  • The best thing to do is call and yell at them… it usually works. I haven’t gone over the entries with a fine tooth comb, but I guess it is well worth the time spent to scrutinize the statement properly.
    I usually check for items I haven’t bought, in case of abuse.

  • Nice Layout..u gotta show me how to make some loot too ;)

  • Tell you what – I did laugh by the end of the post. Thanks!

  • Honestly, I doubt the validity of this particular story… just because I’ve heard it told so many ways, so many times. However, I think story is a great for demonstrating how bone headed big business can be.

    Recently I moved my office into my basement, and I literally spent over 3 hours on 4 different calls over a period of 2 weeks to convince my telephone company that the brand new house in the brand new sub division was capable of accepting their top highspeed Internet plan. Each time I would be passed to a tech after about 15 minutes, who then needed to be convinced by me to re-run the line speed test. Once the test was rerun, the tech would say “Oh, you are right sir, we will upgrade you right away”. Then nothing would happen…sometimes big business makes you want to smack your head against a wall.

  • Wow, it really is amazing how ignorant, and in this case, dim people can be! I mean, seriously it can’t be the first time that has happened, and one would assume The Bank would have a policy for similar situations.

    I must say though, it was a good read and I did laugh at the end :)

  • To me the best part is giving the cemetery address. Thats the way to deal with credit card companies.

  • Yeah, the cementery part is quite hilarious. Good one Ajay, hope to hear from you more frequently

  • Well, I’m trying to blog the moment I can find time

  • I hear ya Ajay, it’s always hard to find time to blog. I have the same problem with my blog DaveSaraiva.com

  • It was really funny …they don’t even leave dead people..

  • With death being such a new thing, it is no wonder wonder the banks systems have not been brought up to date with the modern inconvenience. Sadly, these stories are far-too-common these days. Not only about the idiotic customer service agents we have to deal with – but also this whole psople dying this – real bummer.

  • When my mother died, the credit card company called a few days later, because, having been ill for some time, my mother had fallen behind on the credit card bill.
    CC Person: May I speak with Deanna, please?
    Me: No. She’s deceased.
    CC Person: Are you handling her bills?
    Me: She died earlier today. (Hoping she might get thing hint that this is NOT a good time.)
    CC Person: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Are you handling her bills?
    Me: Um. I suppose. (annoyed tone)
    CC Person: The charges will stand, unless you can fax us a death certificate.
    Me: I see. And what if I don’t? What will happen?
    CC Person: Sir, I’m trying to help you! Your mother had a bill, someone is going to have to pay it. (indignant)

    I’m flabbergasted at this point. I just hung up.

    I’ve worked in phone customer service most of my life. I’ve worked for Directv, AOL, various collections companies… I often dealt with the families of people who had passed. Usually, I would say something like..

    Me: May I speak with Mr. Smith, please?
    Grief Stricken Relative: Mr. Smith passed away last week.
    Me: Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. Well, I’m calling from (wherever), He had a bill with us. I’ll go ahead and let our accounts department know.

    At this point, the person would say thank you. But often they’d ask if there is any info that we needed to close the account, whatever. I’d then give them the death certificate info, a fax number and let them know that the whole thing would be taken care of when we received that.

    I think that’s how it’s supposed to work. if they asked what we’d do if they didn’t send it, I’d say..”I don’t know. It just makes things easier for us..”

  • Love the bit about the cemetery. Recently I heard from a fiend that car insurance companies can’t handle death either. They expect the deceased to keep driving.

  • this may help someone out there:

    As a young responsible college student in the 80′s i got a macy’s card to establish credit. my mom, a former bank teller advised me to get one and i did not want it. So, she said, whenever you make a purchase, just got to the macy’s customer service window and pay the cash toward the credit card.
    I did this with every purchase and therefore never ever received a paper bill in the mail. after about a year, i went to use the card and the cashier took my card very rudely and cut it up. she claimed that the system told her and she called their collections department and was told that i had never paid a bill!
    I got on the phone at that time with collections and was treated very rudely.
    I asked what do i owe and i will pay it right now. I was told that the computer showed a 00.00 balance but i had charged items and never paid a bill! this went on for years. i was denied a car loan, other credit cards etc and alwaays got the same runaround. that i could not pay off the debt but that i never paid a bill!
    10 years went by. i could never fix the problem because everytime i called i got the same answer. i was also told that i had repeatedly ignored letters from their legal department. i had never recieved letters! ever. i always gave my addresss and requested the company contact me to clear it up.
    no letters ever arrived.
    finally in 1996, almost 15 years after my card was “confiscated” i had a knowledgable customer service clerk at macy’s in manhattan. She figured out the problem.
    it seems i had either underpaid or the cashier had entered a wrong cash payment amount, but in 1981 i had underpaid my bill by less than a penny.
    hence,when their is a cash amount due under 50 cents the computer shows a zero sum due and rounds the number to zero. but another part of the system shows an unpaid amount due but no total when the computer checks the amount due in the system.
    therefore, i had to open an account, wait for a paper bill and then send in via check the payment. while she helped me, the macy’s system would not allow her to let me open an account and when she called collections they were rude with her as well.
    Then she discussed the issue, gave some internal code to the department of collections head and they discovered the problem.
    and i never recieved a collection notice because collections will not waste a stamp on an item that is of less value then the amount demanded!
    What did i owe after 15 years with interest?
    25 cents!
    people in line behind me all offered up whatever change they had to help me pay my “debt” people were laughing! the thing that screwed up my entire credit history took one smart caring woman from macy’s and a quarter! and i had to pay in a check. they refused to take cash.

  • The family should have closed the card down when the decedent passed away. I work at a bank, and I understand the bank’s point of view of this situation.

    Today we live in a world that is tormented by identity theft and other fraudulent activities. I have dealt with customers before who have attempted to tap into deceased family member’s bank accounts without following the proper protocol. They claim that the decedent was dead for well over a month and that all of the proper paperwork was filed. However, the account shows activity within the past couple weeks. When asked about it, the family member says that they have continued to use the debit card to withdraw money. (Which is illegal since the family member was not on the account)

    This story kind of reminds me of some situations which about which I have heard. Unfortunately, I believe that this story is greatly exaggerated. Several parts seem to be a miscommunication error that was exaggerated as the story was told and retold. Exaggerations which resulted from the “whisper-down-the-lane” way the story was most likely told. Anyway, it sounds like a misinformed customer.

  • I recently received a credit card bill with a forty something dollar balance. I paid the entire amount before the due date. The next month they sent me another bill saying I owed them 62 cents!!

    How do you send a bill saying “this is what you owe us” and when you pay it they come back and say “you owe us more”?

  • Actually the reason why people have heard this
    story so many times is that it really occurs
    quite often. I heard a similar story
    about a friend, his grandmother and her
    late husband. The dead husband still got
    analog spam and bills over 6 months after
    his death, so this lady of his called
    each instance to clarify a new billing
    address, the local cemetery. And it actually
    worked. No more paperspam or bills :)

  • You realize all these morons are basically rehearsing what scripts they are given and I guess they never go outside “the lines” to take time to be a TRUE customer service rep. But then again there are not many of those left it would be nice if they had more consideration and stopped to actually “listen” to the customer and to what is being said. They really are a disgrace!!

  • I had a similar situation with Financial Aid. I’m 22 right now, so typically they want my parents informations. The problem is my mom passed away about a year and a half ago, so it wouldn’t really do them any good. Took my six months of offering to bring in a small portion of ashes that I keep with me to them so that I could “Introduce” her to them.

  • Good one! but unfortunately death gives no due date (to enable closing credit card beforehand)!!



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