How Far is Too Far When it Come to Collecting Debt?

February 3rd, 2009 by Katelyn HayesThe grief of losing a child is unbearable enough, but as one New York couple found, keeping their dead son’s creditor’s at bay is ever more burdensome. According to this report on, Roco and Laurie Crimeni are forced to relive the same pain they felt burying their 27-year-old son Vincent — who collapsed and died of a heart attack while playing softball almost a year ago — nearly every time the phone rings.

Why? Because creditors are demanding payment for the debts he left behind. Legally, though, these creditors have no right to do so. If there aren’t any assets left behind, and debts are in the deceased’s name only, family members are not required to pay. Yet this couple is being straight-up harassed over their dead son’s outstanding bills!

My heart goes out to them. They’re just trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, but they aren’t being given the opportunity to move on. Roco had this to say to

“I’m afraid to pick up the phone in my own home,” he said. “That’s the hard part, to tell them my son is dead. How many times do I have to repeat it?”

Only Macy’s agreed to forgive the debt, and even then, only after reporters got involved. I understand it’s a harsh economy and everyone is trying to stay afloat, but the law is the law, and there’s no excuse for the creditors to continue to upset this couple. Even if New York were a community property state, which it’s not, the burden wouldn’t fall to his parents anyway; it would be left for a spouse to handle — if he was married.

I only hope the rest of these harassing creditors lay off. The family is not obligated to pay. The creditors need to move on to the next name on the list. Maybe they’ll have better luck there, and this family will finally find some peace.

Have you ever been bullied by collection agency to pay off a deceased family member’s debt? How did you handle it?