Now this is just wrong. From the NY Times:
Dead people are the newest frontier in debt collecting, and one of the healthiest parts of the industry . . . Improved database technology is making it easier to discover when estates are opened in the country’s 3,000 probate courts, giving collectors an opportunity to file timely claims. But if there is no formal estate and thus nothing to file against, the human touch comes into play . . .Specifically, new hires at the company at the forefront of this growing debt collecting approach, DCM Services, are trained for three weeks in what the company calls “empathic active listening.” Their tactics are clear. “You get to be the person who cares,” according to training manager, Autumn Boomgaarden.
But caring is not the only tactic employed by DCM Services. They also prey on the next of kin's sense of spiritual responsibility for their dearly departed. As Michael Ginsberg of Kaulkin Ginsberg, a consulting company to the debt collection industry put it:
"... we want the dead to rest easy, knowing their obligations are taken care of ..."Where do I begin ...
You know, there was a time when the Catholic Church preyed on the emotional and spiritual weaknesses of the poor to induce payments to save the souls of the dearly departed. The payments were called indulgences. But they were also considered so vile and ghoulish that they helped create the conditions for the Protestant Reformation that brought brutal wars, and changed Europe forever.
P.S. In the FYI category: In most states the next of kin are not legally responsible for any of the bills of the deceased.