Seniors face increasing need for debt relief

It's often thought that bankruptcy is an appropriate option for Mississippi families struggling with overwhelming debts. While this is indeed frequently the case, there are many more types of people who can benefit from the debt relief provided via personal bankruptcy. One such group is senior citizens. According to recently-released information from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, older Americans are increasingly troubled by both debt and debt collectors.

Per the CFPB, seniors make more complaints regarding debt collectors than they do about any other service or product. Between last year and this year, many of the submitted complaints focused on debt collectors who attempted to collect from the wrong person, collectors who used harassment or intimidation, to the complete lack of important information about the debt itself.

The reasons for seniors' unmanageable debts are as varied as today's seniors themselves. Older Americans may be coping with significantly more medical expenses than their younger counterparts; thanks to the rough economy from recent years, they may have used retirement funds to pay for immediate needs and, thus, there is little savings on which to draw. Interestingly, according to the CFPB, some seniors mentioned that debt collectors were actually worsening their existing medical problems.

Additional debts faced by seniors include their children's student loans. Nowadays, the cost of college can be exorbitant and parents who co-signed their children's loans may be on the hook for payments they cannot make on a fixed income. Seniors who live in their homes may be hit hard by rising property tax burdens and some seniors also may be hounded for debts belonging to family members who have passed away.

Seniors with legitimate, overwhelming debts may wish to consult with a bankruptcy attorney regarding their situation. Filing for bankruptcy can be particularly helpful for seniors because it can potentially stop foreclosure and allow the filer to remain in his or her home.

Source: Consumer Affairs, "Seniors struggling with debt, debt collectors," Truman Lewis, Nov. 6, 2014

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