| August 28, 2009

Seniors need to know their rights with debt collection agencies

When it comes to collectors calling about credit card debt, seniors need to know what is and isn’t allowed.

A recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that an information session for seniors was recently held by law students from the Widener University Law School’s Civil Clinic. During the clinic on credit, counseling was given to seniors advising them of their rights with regard to debt collectors.

Among those rights is the fact that debt collectors can only call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Furthermore, constant calling is not allowed, and consumer’s whose debt problems are being handled by an attorney cannot be contacted.

Katrina Shea, one of the law students at the clinic featured in the report, told the seniors they shouldn’t be afraid of hanging up on credit collection agencies.

"Tell them you know your rights," Shea said during the meeting.

Some of the other rules for collection agencies include not being able to contact a debtor’s neighbors or family and being barred from collecting off certain benefits, including Social Security and disability.

According to recent report from the advocacy group Demos, those 65 and older had the highest percentage increase amongst age groups when it comes to the amount of credit card debt they carried. From 2005 to 2008, the amount of credit card debt for that age group jumped 26 percent to an average of $10,235.

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