How can I stop credit card companies to stop hounding Mom?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mom is 84 years-old and is living on a fixed income. She has poor health and is bedridden. She has a credit card that has a high monthly payment and a annual fee. She can't afford a lawyer to file for bankruptcy. She gets many phone calls from the credit card company and want to speak to her, but she is deaf. They refuse to speak to me. What can the credit card people do to my Mom and what advice do you have for her? Thanks

Expert Answer

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for

Credit card debt is a common problem and particularly troubling for the elderly. You have some options to try to stop credit card company harassment for your elderly parent. First, you should have a durable power of attorney so you can act as her agent in financial matters. Provide the credit card company with your POA. This will enable you to speak to them on her behalf. The next step depends on whether or not your mother can afford to make any payments towards the debt. If so, negotiate a reduction of the amount owed in exchange for a smaller monthly payment. If your mother cannot afford to pay anything, let them know over the phone and follow up with a written letter. Explain the situation to them; your mother is elderly, in poor health, deaf and bedridden. Tell them she is on a fixed income and cannot afford to make any payments. This may be enough to make them stop trying to collect the debt. Or they may turn the debt over to a collection company. The collection company will harass your mother as well. If they do not stop after you explain the situation to them, you can write a letter requesting that they "cease" their collection actions and tell them your mother will address the situation when she is able. This will stop the calls, but the debt still exists. You did not mention if your mother has any real property, i.e. does she own her house? If so, the creditor can file a lawsuit and, if they get a judgment, can attach her property. However, if she has no property, there is nothing they can do. Chances are they will not go to these extreme measures.