Troutman man says collection agencies are hounding him to pay off his dead wife’s credit card debt

Updated: Dec. 21, 2020 at 6:15 PM EST
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TROUTMAN, N.C. (WBTV) - The year 2020 has been especially painful for a Troutman man whose wife died from COVID-19.

Not only is he grieving the loss, he’s dealing with another problem - constant harassment from collection agencies, hounding him to pay off his dead wife’s credit card debt.

Jerry Donahue says the phone is continuously ringing. He has tried to explain that his wife has just died and he needs time to get her accounts in order, but the calls and now threatening letters keep coming.

“She was a wonderful, loving soul,” said Donahue of his 53-year-old wife Astrid. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 on June 23 and died less than a month later.

“She loved to go out, she loved her dog - just an all around wonderful person. It was a tremendous loss to our family,” Donahue said.

Along with the loss, Donahue has spent the past several months trying to determine how much debt is owed.

“There’s a couple like Capital One who have contacted me several times - one is about a Mastercard - she had two cards with them,” Donahue said.

Donahue says the collection agencies from Capital One are now aggressively coming after him.

A letter indicates, “Our records show that you are the person who had the authority to pay the outstanding bills of Astrid Donahue out of Astrid Donahue’s estate.” There are remaining balances listed for $1,414.97 and $1,219.55.

“It’s really agonizing that I keep getting contacted in reference to this debt that she had and it’s not a lot from each one of them,” Donahue said.

Donahue says Capital One alone has called him six times.

“Each phone call I receive, it’s you know, ‘Mr. Donahue you’re not responsible for the debts so don’t think we’re trying to get you, it’s the estate that we want to deal with’ and so I’m not responsible but the estate’s responsible, so that means I’m responsible,” Donahue said.

WBTV contacted Capital One to ask why they keep calling.

In a statement they said in part, “We never hold family members responsible for repaying the debt of loved ones who have passed away, and we sincerely apologize if there was any misunderstanding about that policy in this case.”

Donahue says the death of his wife and the incessant calls have taken a mental toll. He is gradually trying to pay whatever debts are due. He just needs time.

“All the banks say if you’re affected by COVID-19 we’re willing to work with you, we’re willing to do this, but are they really?,” Donahue said.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act outlines limitations on debt collectors and can buy you time to get accounts in order before having to re-pay money that’s owed.

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