Start My Answer

Guide to Elderly Debt Collection Laws

George Simons | December 12, 2023

George Simons
Co-Founder of SoloSuit
George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons is the co-founder and CEO of SoloSuit. He has helped Americans protect over $1 billion from predatory debt lawsuits. George graduated from BYU Law school in 2020 with a JD-MBA. In his spare time, George likes to cook, because he likes to eat.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Debt collectors love to take advantage of the elderly. Find out how to keep debt collectors from harassing you and those you care about.

If you are being subjected to harassment by a debt collector, the stress and anxiety can be debilitating. You dread opening the mailbox out of concern that there will be a new threatening letter sent by the collection agency. You avoid phone calls, particularly calls from an unidentified number. You may have trouble sleeping due to concern about your long-term financial future.

Unfortunately, the concerns and stress associated with harassment from debt collectors are quite common and experienced by many people in all walks of life, even elderly individuals. The threats and harassment from a debt collector can be overwhelming for a senior citizen causing unnecessary stress and anxiety which, in some instances, can exacerbate existing health issues.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Office for Older Americans, a frequent complaint from elderly individuals with unpaid debts is the frequent and abusive encounters with debt collectors. One out of every three complaints filed with the CFPB is related to an incident with a debt collector.

Complaints ranged from debt collectors threatening to garnish federal benefits to general harassment. This is extremely troubling, especially when you consider the fact that some elderly individuals have cognitive issues and are at a much greater risk of being taken advantage of by an unethical debt collector.

If you are a senior citizen being subjected to harassing phone calls and correspondence from a debt collector, do not give up hope. There are laws in place that are designed to protect you from such harassment.

Don't let debt collectors take advantage of you. Respond with SoloSuit.

Examples of Disturbing and Unethical Debt Collection Tactics Used Against the Elderly

Anyone can be subjected to abusive debt collection practices. Nevertheless, elderly individuals are more vulnerable and, based on public data, frequently file more complaints with the CFPB than any other demographic related to encounters with debt collectors. Some of the types of abusive collection practices that have been reported by elderly individuals include the following:

  • Threats of garnishing retirement benefits - Debt collectors often threaten elderly individuals with the prospect of pursuing a garnishment of their retirement benefits as a way to convince the individual to pay the debt. Please understand that debt collectors are legally prohibited from garnishing Social Security income or benefits. Also, most retirement accounts are exempt from garnishment related to unpaid debt. Some debt collectors threaten that they will file a lawsuit to obtain a judgment to garnish income as an added punishment. Please note that such a tactic is illegal and would never be approved by a court.
  • Making baseless threats and using inappropriate language during the call - Debt collectors are often disrespectful and downright mean to senior citizens. They often assume that senior citizens do not understand their legal rights regarding fair debt collections. They also assume they can harass a senior citizen to the point where they will bend to their will, borrow money or go without medicine, food, or other necessities simply to pay off the debt. Also, as mentioned earlier, there have been disturbing incidents where a debt collector has attempted to take advantage of senior citizens with diagnosed cognitive issues such as Alzheimer's Disease.
  • Attempting to collect on a debt owed by a deceased individual - Unless the surviving spouse co-signed on the debt or agreed to be personally liable for the debt, a debt collector is unable to demand that the surviving spouse repay the debt. Unfortunately, many debt collectors try to prey on an individual's lack of knowledge in this regard and mislead the grieving spouse into making a payment under the belief that they are responsible for the debt.
  • Attempting to collect on time-barred debts - Creditors and debt collectors are only afforded a finite period of time to take legal action to recover on an unpaid debt. This period of time is known as the statute of limitations. When the statute of limitations expires, a debt collector is prohibited from filing a lawsuit to recover the debt. This means it has become a “time-barred” debt. Unfortunately, some debt collectors will press forward and try to collect on an old, time-barred debt hoping that you do not ask them for the actual age of the debt.

Use SoloSuit to respond to debt collectors in 15 minutes.

Rights and Protections You Get From The FDCPA

If you are a senior citizen being subjected to harassing phone calls and letters from a debt collector, please understand that you do not have to endure such treatment. Debt collectors are required to obey the law regarding fair debt collection practices. At the federal level, Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which prevents debt collectors from taking certain actions when attempting to collect on a debt.

According to the FDCPA, debt collectors are generally not allowed to harass you, your loved ones, work colleagues, etc. in pursuit of repayment on a debt. For example, debt collectors are expressly prohibited under the FDCPA from engaging in the following types of collection practices:

  • Calling you before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m. without your permission
  • Threatening to harm you or members of your family physically
  • Threatening to harm you or members of your family financially
  • Using obscene or inappropriate language during phone calls or other correspondence
  • Calling you repeatedly
  • Calling you at work

If you send a cease and desist letter to the debt collector telling them to stop phone and written contact, there is a provision in the FDCPA that requires collectors who receive the cease and desist letter to immediately halt making phone calls and sending letters. Though, a cease and desist letter does not prohibit a debt collector from filing a lawsuit.

Senior citizens who are being harangued and threatened by debt collectors have rights and do not have to suffer through such abuse during their golden years. There are federal protections afforded to individuals when it comes to being contacted by debt collectors under the FDCPA. Also, many states have their own set of laws designed to protect individuals, including the elderly, from being abused and harassed by debt collectors.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James

Get Started

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance

How to Answer a Summons for debt collection in all 50 states

Here's a list of guides on how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in each state:

The Ultimate 50 State Guide

Guides on how to resolve debt with every debt collector

Are you being sued by a debt collector? We’re making guides on how to resolve debt with each one.

Resolve your debt with your creditor

Some creditors, banks, and lenders have an internal collections department. If they come after you for a debt, Solosuit can still help you respond and resolve the debt. Here’s a list of guides on how to resolve debt with different creditors.

Settle your medical debt

Having a health challenge is stressful, but dealing medical debt on top of it is overwhelming. Here are some resources on how to manage medical debt.

Guides on arbitration

If the thought of going to court stresses you out, you’re not alone. Many Americans who are sued for credit card debt utilize a Motion to Compel Arbitration to push their case out of court and into arbitration.

Below are some resources on how to use an arbitration clause to your advantage and win a debt lawsuit.

Stop calls from debt collectors

Do you keep getting calls from an unknown number, only to realize that it’s a debt collector on the other line? If you’ve been called by any of the following numbers, chances are you have collectors coming after you, and we’ll tell you how to stop them.

Federal debt collection laws can protect you

Knowing your rights makes it easier to stand up for your rights. Below, we’ve compiled all our articles on federal debt collection laws that protect you from unfair practices.

Get debt relief in your state

We’ve created a specialized guide on how to find debt relief in all 50 states, complete with steps to take to find relief, state-specific resources, and more.

Debt collection laws in all 50 states

Debt collection laws vary by state, so we have compiled a guide to each state’s debt collection laws to make it easier for you to stand up for your rights—no matter where you live.

Statute of limitations on debt state guides

Like all debt collection laws, the statute of limitations on debt varies by state. So, we wrote a guide on each state’s statutes. Check it out below.

Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection by State (Best Guide)

Check the status of your court case

Don’t have time to go to your local courthouse to check the status of your case? We’ve created a guide on how to check the status of your case in every state, complete with online search tools and court directories.

How to stop wage garnishment in your state

Forgot to respond to your debt lawsuit? The judge may have ordered a default judgment against you, and with a default judgment, debt collectors can garnish your wages. Here are our guides on how to stop wage garnishment in all 50 states.

How to settle a debt in your state

Debt settlement is one of the most effective ways to resolve a debt and save money. We’ve created a guide on how to settle your debt in all 50 states. Find out how to settle in your state with a simple click and explore other debt settlement resources below.

How to settle with every debt collector

Not sure how to negotiate a debt settlement with a debt collector? We are creating guides to help you know how to start the settlement conversation and increase your chances of coming to an agreement with every debt collector.

Other debt settlement resources

Personal loan and debt relief reviews

We give a factual review of the following debt consolidation, debt settlement, and loan organizations and companies to help you make an informed decision before you take on a debt.

Civil law legal definitions

You can represent yourself in court. Save yourself the time and cost of finding an attorney, and use the following resources to understand legal definitions better and how they may apply to your case.

Get answers to these FAQs on debt collection

How-to debt guides

Learn more with these additional debt resources