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PayPal told customer her death breached its rules (bbc.com)
188 points by adzicg 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments

Title is borderline a little clickbaity. There's not a ton of information but from what I gather it seems like the following happened:

She had a PayPal credit card or some other form of revolving account with PayPal (the letter references to "PayPal Credit" agreement) with a balance of just over £3,000.

Dead people can't legally hold credit cards so she "breached" her credit card agreement by dying - that is, an action on her part made the agreement no longer valid. This caused PayPal to close the revolving credit line and the balance to be due in full.

As I understand it her estate would be legally required to pay the balance if it had the funds to do so. (99.9% sure - correct me if I'm wrong)

The letter was sent informing her of the above.

So seems like the letter was "technically correct" (the best kind of correct!) but horribly insensitive to the point of basically being straight up cruel. The other mistake is it should have been addressed to the executor of her estate instead of her personally.

EDIT: Here's the UK version of "PayPal Credit": https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/paypal-virtual-credit Looks like it's a revolving account without a physical card.

> Title is borderline a little clickbaity

What? It's literally what the letter they sent to the dead customer says.

> PayPal told customer her death breached its rules

> You are breach in [rule] because ... you are deceased

To me it makes it seem much more outrageous than it is.

The letter is absolutely terrible, horribly insensitive, cruel, and should have never been sent.

However, like I said, it seems "technically correct" with the information we are given.

> Dead people can't legally hold credit cards so she "breached" her credit card agreement by dying

No it is not technically correct.

Death is not a breach of contract in UK law. It causes the contract to end.

I thought that's what happened? Or is debt not part of the inheritance in this case and only the savings/property given to the family?

In the UK debt can not be inherited. A debt that is shared (severally or collectively) with a dead person is different. The main reason for this is that under common law you can't be held liable for other people's actions or inaction (unless you specifically agree to it; i.e. being guarantor for someone else's debt).

Any assets left after debt has been settled by the estate can be inherited. If the estate has more debt than assets then the estate is effectively bankrupted but it would normally be handled by the Probate Court (the court that handles cases of death estates amongst other things) rather than the Court of Chancery (Bankruptcy court). In days of yore both the Probate Court and the Court of Chancery were a part of the Court of Equity (in effect a court of common law) and so the Probate Court had very similar powers to the Court of Chancery and hence the Probate Court would handle a bankrupted estate rather than turning it over to the Court of Chancery.

EDIT: added explanatory clause

But that's pretty much what the parent asks about in this context: the existing debt is part of the estate, and relevant to the heirs. I think you misunderstood the intent of their question by focusing on the "inherited" too much.

The debt is not relevant to the heirs. Any debt that can’t be settled by the estate is facing a bankrupt debtor.

What matters to the heirs of the estate is whether there is an inheritance or not. That happens after debts are settled and contracts terminated.

It is relevant to the executor of the estate, who may not be an heir (and in many jurisdictions, is prohibited from being an heir).

> Or is debt not part of the inheritance in this case and only the savings/property given to the family?

Inheriting debt is virtually unheard of in most of the western world. The estate will pay off what it can, but the rest of the debt is simply wiped out.

The exceptions here are mortgages, which are attached to the house and therefore would transfer to whoever inherits the house, if they accept it. And in the US some states have some kind of exception which transfers medical debt to children in some circumstances, apparently, which strikes me as barbaric.

i guess germany isn't part of the western world in that case?

you've got a choice if you've got an inheritance. You either inherit everything that you're eligible to inherit (this includes any outstanding debts) or nothing.

At least that's my understanding of my local law, but I'm neither a lawyer nor did i ever inherit anything.

> you've got a choice if you've got an inheritance. You either inherit everything that you're eligible to inherit (this includes any outstanding debts) or nothing.

But that's effectively the same situation as in almost any other country. Debts are settled before you are eligible to inherit anything. If debts are more than the estate has, then you don't inherit anything.

Oh, it's very different. Either the court figues out if there is any inheritance and distributes everything left over after settling any debts... Or the inheritor has to figure everything out himself, potentially indebting himself because he didn't know about a debt.

Accepting an inheritance is pretty risky in Germany, if your parents weren't well off.

And PayPal's letter would make sense if its left for the inheritor to figure out. But that doesn't seem to be the case if I understood the sibling comment correctly? It's always interesting to learn stuff like that :)

In Switzerland one could ask the authorities to create an inventory of the estate if one is unsure. I am sure that Germany has a similar solution.

So why would anyone ever choose the second option? What's the upside to that?

The second option would be to deny the inheritance.. I'm pretty sure that most poor people do that. The inheritance is rarely worth the potential liability unless the deceased was financially secure... And this doesn't apply to a big part of the population.

We've got inheritance lawyers in Germany that can help people figure out wherever accepting a specific inheritance is a smart move... But that often isn't really worth it either.

> Either the court figues out if there is any inheritance and distributes everything left over after settling any debts... Or the inheritor has to figure everything out himself, potentially indebting himself because he didn't know about a debt.

But I still don't get it.

Option one is to get just your remaining inheritance after any debts are paid, with the court doing all the work. Option two is to get everything and then pay the debts yourself.

Option one is zero risk and you get everything you're entitled to. Why would anyone refuse the inheritance instead of taking this option?

Option two has some risk and some potential reward. I can understand not taking that option, but there's no reason at all to not take option 1.

These are not the two options available in Germany: y4ml was comparing the German situation to the common-law one.

They are saying that in Germany, the options are: accept both the assets and liabilities, or reject both.

No, option one is: you get everything and have to pay off any debts that come with it.

Option two: you refuse the entire inheritance, get nothing but also don't get any debts.

Does that mean you may end up not inheriting value worthless yet emotionally valuable items such as photos because you refuse the inheritance? Or does it only count for valuable things such as jewelry?

That’s not what they said. They said they distribute everything left over after debts to inheritors.

> Either the court figues out if there is any inheritance and distributes everything left over after settling any debts...

The former isn't an option in germany. As someone else mentioned on a sibling comment: I asked about the inheritance law in UK and compared it to the german one in your quoted sentence.

This comparision was pretty off topic and probably shouln't have been posted in this context.

Regarding the medical debt aspect being passed on...I would write a nice letter telling them to fuck off. They will never see a dime.

In case someone wants to look it up it's a kind of filial responsibility law.

What is “technically correct” about addressing a letter to a dead person?

I believe he was referring to the content of the letter, not the mistake in addressee.

Uh, it’s definitely not click bait. They literally sent a letter to a person to tell them that her death breached their rules.

Part of the letter informed the dead person they would restrict her ability to use the service. One wonders how they intend to implement restrictions more effective than death!

Clickbait is not defined as "a headline that is false," its defined as "a headline that makes you want to click."

"PayPal told customer her death breached its rules" is much much "clickable" than "PayPal sent insensitive letter to a dead customer." It makes it sound much more outrageous. That's why it's borderline clickbaity to me. Added to that it didn't define 15.4 (c) of the Paypal Credit agreement. Feel free to disagree, there's no absolutes here, only opinions.


>Clickbait is a website link designed to entice users to go to a certain web-page or video.[1] [2] ... Click-bait headlines typically aim to exploit the "curiosity gap", providing just enough information to make readers of news websites curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content.[3][4][5]

The estate is liable but the lender may not pursue it. When my Dad died with a couple of similar credit card debts they were immediately written off. Maybe because chasing elderly widows isn't a good look.

Though comments elsewhere in the thread suggest that American lenders don't have these scruples.

They also probably had purchased a life insurance policy on him anyway and got paid out already, or had earned a satisfactory amount in interest payments.

Sounds like you should be working for Paypal. You apparently find it normal that a) dying violates the company's terms and conditions b) a notice of violation should be addressed to a dead person.

What does section 15.4(c) of the Paypal Credit agreement say?

This is 15.4 (c) of the Paypal Credit agreement - "We may close the Credit Account and demand repayment of the full amount you owe us if you die or become of unsound mind"

"demand [...] if you die"

I'm sure it will be very fruitful to make such a demand.

If the customer's estate has enough assets to pay the balance then the demand will be fruitful.

I tried to look at it for you, but because I don't have an existing PayPal Credit agreement with them, they won't let me view it. :-(

Won't let me see it without logging in:


My PayPal account is American, so I didn't try to login and read it.

EDIT: Yep, redirects me the the US credit card agreement when I login.

It's not unreasonable for a company to ask for repayment of outstanding debt upon death. Your outstanding mortgage balance, auto loan, credit card balances, etc., don't magically become discharged upon your death. Those matters are normally handled by one's estate.

To say that it's a breach of agreement is inaccurate. You agree to repay those on death, so it would only be a breach of agreement if your estate attempts to avoid payment. For that reason, the letter definitely was insensitive as there's no reason to call her out for not fulfilling her agreement, unless maybe her estate is valueless and they are unable to collect?

Although it's insensitive, it makes sense from a legal perspective. IANAL, but I imagine it's something like:

1. paypal receives notice she's deceased, so they have to collect the remaining balance

2. the creditor must notify the client (hence the letter being addressed to her) of their account being closed, and that the full amount is due

3. the creditor must specify a reason for terminating the account, hence the "see section X of the agreement that says you have to be alive to hold an account", "...you are deceased"

>it makes sense from a legal perspective

No it doesn't.

This is the work of a second rate player on paypal's legal team. You do not address letters to dead people. You address letters to their estate or if you know who the individual is, the executor of the estate in respect of their estate.

You do not say someone breached a contract when in fact you're exercising a right to wind up the account triggered by death.

Either one of these errors is an annoying mistake. Both of them together is a fairly large fuck-up. Lawyers put a LOT of work into drafting the right tone into their correspondence.

Estates law isn't particularly esoteric, either, but most in-house counsel practice corporate law, primarily, so it's probably just a case of a few corporate guys going "It looks okay, I guess" when proofing the template and not firing off a quick call to their pal that works in estates to review the deceased creditor notice.

I'm just saying it sounds like legal CYA. Consider [1] defines "you" in the agreement as "The person who applied for this Account and agrees to this Agreement." Further down, section 12 specifies that the account automatically moves to a "in default" state if you "Pass away or become incompetent;"

Considering that "you" needs to be notified when their account goes into default, does "you" automatically become "the estate"? Is "the estate" the one who "applied for this Account and agrees to this Agreement"? Can an estate agree to anything?

Is it possible a deceased person would be able to get off the hook for this kind of debt is the agreement isn't followed to the letter by the creditor?

[1] https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/bmlterms#accountAgreem...

There isn’t anything to do with the person once they die - obviously you don’t need to notify a dead person that they’re dead. The whole mess with simply becoming “in default” is likely outright wrong in the U.K., as there’s a pile of somewhat complex law surrounding what happens to people’s debts when they die.

My best guess is this is a "cover our asses" (literally) template not intended to be read by the recipient.

Maybe their target reader is people who fake their deaths?

> "cover our asses" (literally)

Don't you mean, "figuratively"? Or are you implying that there is some dude at PayPal that is using this legal template as undergarments?

This is paypal. It is possible.

I think the charitable interpretation is that a manager said the literal words "cover our asses" when setting this up. Or possibly the GP meant "exists for literally no other reason than "cover our asses"".

Sorry, I meant it it's literally a letter that was not intended to be read by anyone.

That use case seems much more apt, though.

Sounds plausible, but it is surprising this special case handling would be automated.

It's not a special case. Every one of your customers will die. If you test account creation, try testing this.

It’s not a special case

Indeed it’s not:

“Dead Facebook users will soon outnumber the living”


And by "soon" they mean 47 years from now.

I wonder what they consider "long term."

I beat them to that by a considerable amount of time:


> Every one of your customers will die.

"Corporations are people, my friend". Undead people, I'll add, who do not have an upper limit for age, and might as well be immortal.

And at the rate mergers and acquisitions are going, in the end there may very well only be one.

Starzelius Verily?

I...don't see how that says GE died?

I mean that people faking their own death is a special case, not that people die.

Uh, the only way to test this scenario is to make someone die.

Do you have to have babies to test new accounts?

Jesus, this would be a great novel about a person whose entire life and reason for being was to be a test case for some massive application.

So a modern day version of “The Truman Show”?

Or you can just mock your death.

Knowing my life, that could well happen.

Most likely reason is that they automated the automation of these issues. They always will need a row in DB for these cases, and their automation of automation probably doesn't distinguish this very special case.

Premature automation ought to be the root of all evil instead.

I'm not sure it was premature, or at least I'm not sure if anything that has been said here implies that it was premature. Perhaps they have thousands of these letters and it would be too much of a hassle to pick out the several hundreds that are edge cases.

This email would not have been totally abnormal from a legal perspective, if the first person references and grammar were changed to third person, and it was addressed to an estate executor rather than directly to the deceased. Credit card companies and similar will do the same.

I bet the customer didn't mind.

In the United States private debt collectors will attempt to get bereaved family members of a recently dead person to begin payment on the deceased person's debt, with social engineering tactics.

When the appropriate legal response is: "NAME is deceased, here is the contact info the for executor of the estate".

All creators do have a right to attempt to regain their losses before assets are distributed to people on the deceased person's will or next-of-kin.

If the executor of the estate runs out of funds from that estate, the company will usually just write off the debt or they might go to court to make sure, but then write off the debt. The inheritor never pays the debt of the deceased.

A formal appointment of executor, or even just understanding the role of de facto executor, takes a bit of time. Meanwhile, there is a strong feeling of wanting to "make things right" with the ongoing accounts - eg just paying off a credit card bill out of one's own account and moving on to the next envelope in the pile.

If the estate has debt but no assets (which is quite common given probate-avoiding estate planning tools like joint accounts and contract beneficiaries), then such payments are a straight up waste.

Unnecessarily paying off a decedent's debts may still be in line with the decedent's life philosophy and wishes, but one certainly shouldn't be goaded into doing so due to harassment from creditors at an already emotional and stressful time.

I've never understood this behavior. How is this not considered harassment?

Because debt collectors have literal exceptions to harassment laws.

In the US at least, you can serve debt collectors notice that they must cease all future communications with you, and if they disregard that, the FTC can and will go after them.

I'd recommend reading the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.


I hate debt collectors as much as anyone, but they do have quite a few rules. Most jurisdictions have times during which you can call someone (collects need to be sure to adjust for the destination timezone; since they might not realize they're called at 6am if they're on a different coast).

In Australia (if they show Tricky Business is at all realistic), Mercantile agents can't present you with a notice in front of other people and must serve you in person (similar to a legal summons in the US).

So there are _some_ regulations in place.

It's not outlandish to think that if, say, your parent bought a vehicle for you to use, and they held the <strike>title</strike> title documentation and lien note... while they were making payments on it on your behalf, and you were driving or in possession of the car when they died, that it follows logically that you should simply assume that debt and maintain an uninterrupted record of payments in order to be able to continue uninterrupted use of the car. Stretch that example to "a car that was bought with a credit card" and you can see how this could be a legitimate effort. I don't know how that plays out legally, but I assume there's not any legal option where the debt simply goes unpaid by the estate and by you, and the car is not legally meant to be repossessed.

You may not have known that the car you are driving is not paid in full. Large assets can be repo'ed if the account that paid for them is in arrears. This is not necessarily going to happen right away, the estate may have accounted for this already, there are plenty of reasons why this contact is bogus, but it could also be possibly in your interest to follow up with payments in certain cases. (Fight me?)

You could give the car back to the estate (probably the right answer?), or argue that it was a gift, and the estate should pay for it, but I don't know if either of those arguments will actually get you anywhere / prevent the car from being repossessed. You might have documentation that it was a gift, but there's also a lien on the title. Your gift might have been smaller than a car, there's no title, and you might not have any documentation of the gift. (I'm not sure if it matters that you can prove it was meant to be a gift.)

It's probably not considered harassment or illegitimate on about the same basis that you can be newly considered responsible for your own debts that are "past the statute of limitations" that you have started payments on again, even if your last contact was some time after the statute of limitations had already expired.

At that point the debt collectors can continue contacting you, but the collection efforts must include language that explains the fact that you can't be sued for these debts. Well, what they don't explain is that by making a payment, you could be resetting the statute of limitations and newly assuming responsibility for the whole debt, with a brand new expiry date. (I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, but this is my understanding of why you "just don't answer those letters.")

You wouldn't have started making payments if you didn't feel that you ought to be responsible for the debt, "QED." Not saying it's fair or right, but there are cases where that's what the law assumes and approximately why it is so.

There are also a lot of things that collectors can do, that would easily be considered harassment if you simply asked them to stop (and then they persisted anyway). People don't always ask, or know that they should ask. Especially if they don't want to pay! (Whether or not responsible, it rightfully makes people go on the defensive to receive a contact from a bill collector.)

I'm getting downvoted but nobody is telling me if I've said something incorrect. That "disagree" button...

Have you ever bought a car with a loan? Until it's paid off, the lender is listed on the title as the owner. That doesn't change when whoever was making the payments dies, so the lender can repossess if the payments stop. A credit card is not the same, there is no complicated ownership structure, so good luck repossessing my dinner from last night.

But you can buy jewelery or other big ticket items with a credit card, and the ownership can be called into question if that card wasn't paid off before the person responsible died...

So it could be repossessed. (Through the estate, right?). Never mind it's probably much harder without a clear title. Nobody gets a pass to buy free stuff with their credit cards before they die. It's just harder to repo in many cases.

(Jewelery given to your children is also likely much easier to trace and repossess, than the example of a sandwich given to a random homeless friend.)

> Nobody gets a pass to buy free stuff with their credit cards before they die.

While they don't "get a pass", this is something that happens - credit-givers know this and the risk is baked into the price and amortized over the entire card-holding population. A lot of people have delinquent debt and some choose to declare bankruptcy.

How do you repossess an expensive luxury cruise, or a stay in Vegas? Some debt is just written off.

It's actually very hard to claw back gifts and almost impossible to claw back things that were sold.

That's not how credit cards work, and at any rate it's pretty difficult to get a loan for jewelry. It's the difference between "secured" and "unsecured."

the ownership can be called into question if that card wasn't paid off before the person responsible died

On what legal basis?

If you are the beneficiary of the estate and your benefactor ran up their credit cards before they died, to be able to give gifts to you, the credit cards are still owed by the estate.

If the estate does not have the money to pay the debt, the estate would be liquidated to cover as much as possible and the creditors get theirs before you get yours.

If there is documentation to support that they did this on purpose, with the intention of defrauding the card issuers so that you can have some kind of inheritance, then what will happen?

(I've never lived through this scenario but I have to imagine they'll have some recourse against you or the estate. I don't know everything about the law but I know enough to believe that the answer is not "you get to keep any ill-gotten spoils of the scheme, and simply get away with it.")

It's a timing question. If the dead person gave away a diamond ring before death then it's not part of the estate and the new owner can keep it without issue.

If the dead person owned a ring when they died then it's an asset that can't be passed on until after debts where paid. However, the estate can sell the ring which they still own for what it's currently worth without issue. They just can't give anyone assets until debts are paid.

This opens up something of a loophole where family can purchase items of a sentimental nature which are not actually worth much on the open market.

> This opens up something of a loophole where family can purchase items of a sentimental nature which are not actually worth much on the open market.

That seems like not much of a loophole, are you saying for tax purposes? Since the assessed value of a gift might be much higher than the actual purchase price at auction...?

The loophole seems to be that they can give the gift when their estate is insolvent, if any loophole exists. (Not saying you're wrong, or that this loophole is wrong.)

Or are you saying, it's a loophole because they couldn't normally get those precious things from the estate if it was insolvent, except that their value is mostly sentimental, so they can actually be purchased for a pittance at the inevitable estate auction?

> Or are you saying, it's a loophole because they couldn't normally get those precious things from the estate if it was insolvent, except that their value is mostly sentimental, so they can actually be purchased for a pittance at the inevitable estate auction?

This, the estate can't give things away so normally someone would need to payoff or assume debts to get such things. However, if the sentimental value is high on grandma's rocking chair, but it's actual value is low then family can still get it cheap even if it's not free.

I am not a lawyer and you can feel free to tell me I'm wrong or specifically where I'm wrong if you know more law than me, but I know there are a lot of "clever tricks" that you might think of, that you might usually be pretty much able to get away with in most circumstances ... that are technically (or blatantly) fraud and if caught, you might actually not so much be able to get away with it.

For example, if your parent is past retirement age and has a sizeable nest-egg, which you've transferred into your own name with their permission, and then considered as yours, knowing that you are the executor and they are assets that are assigned to you in the will... call it a "trust" because your parent trusts you, maybe with Power of Attorney...

Well, this might be legal in and of itself (I don't know specifically), but maybe it's actually not legal if you failed to document it properly. There are limits to the amount that you can gift without paying taxes. Was it a gift, or is it a trust? It might matter for tax reasons, or estate settlement reasons, or both.

And one more reason that it would need to be carefully documented, even if you can legally do this is: say that your parent needs nursing care in their final days, and on paper they are flat broke. But actually this trust exists. Well, if it wasn't a crime before, to make the transfer in trust without proper documentation, it certainly becomes a crime now if they apply for medicare benefits to keep the nursing homes from "getting their hands on that money," that's medicare fraud and it's very serious.

That's also pretty far from the original topic, but it's not as far as it might seem. There can be cases where something would have flown under the radar even if it was illegal, but now there is an estate involved, and those things are going to come to light as a result.

If there is a major credit card debt and there are no assets in the estate that can pay for it, then it seems likely that there will be more questions after that. "Are there any hidden assets" can be one of those questions, and there's certainly a spectrum of answers that varies according to whether those assets might be in the form of a gifted sandwich / some jewelry / a car / a boat, etc. and whether those gifts were legitimate or fraudulent.

It will be very hard to get the assets back, but who knows... it might be pretty easy to nail someone with a fraud charge if it was fraud and they were sloppy.

Wouldn't a loan for jewelry be secured by the jewelry itself, if nothing else? I thought "unsecured" implied that there was no collateral or object that could be repossessed if you failed to pay (e.g., student loans).

Securedness is a property of the loan, not of the thing you used the loan to buy.

Sure, but loans for tangible property can usually be secured by the thing itself (assuming it doesn't deprecate, etc), so I think tangible thing==>secured loan is not a crazy rule of thumb.

Assuming you could talk a lender into taking the risk, I see no reason you couldn't get an unsecured loan for a car. Obviously, you could put up collateral to secure any sort of loan too.

It's not a crazy rule of thumb at all, but you're more likely to buy jewellery with a credit card than a secured loan.

Yes, this. It matters if there is something tangible to be repossessed or not.

The person who purchased the car is listed on the title as the owner, but the lender is listed as having a lien on the car.

The car dealer should have accounted for that risk in their interest rate. If the recipient of the car didn't sign anything, they should not be liable to return car or money.

What if I took out a payment plan to buy a sandwich, gave the sandwich to a homeless man, and then died without finishing all the payments? You say the homeless man should be obligated to give up the sandwich??

A car is not a sandwich, just like a credit card is not a potted plant? I used the specific example of a car as something that has legal constructs for an actual document called a title of ownership, where there can be a lien on the title, etc.

If the dealer has a lien against the title of the car, then yes, you give back that car when the order to repossess is issued.

You think the lien is cleared because the debtor passed away? It doesn't work like that. The ownership of the car is based on a transfer of title, and though you may be driving the car, possession is "only 9/10" of the law. If the title is not in your name, then it is not your car. You're just driving it.

Such cases I'm fairly certain that it's actually the title that says who owns the car. If you gave a homeless man a sandwich, paid for with a credit card, and then you died owing money on that card, then yes, that man probably has clear title to keep the sandwich.

If a person takes out a loan to buy a car then the financing company actually holds the title to the vehicle. You can't give away something you don't own.

Where I've unfortunately made the water a bit muddy here because the story is about a credit card and not a car, is that you don't usually buy a car with a credit card.

(But hypothetically if you do, and it was simply processed as a regular card transaction, would the credit card company potentially have any claim on the title?)

In the US, a credit card company doesn't generally have any claim on the merchandise, credit cards are an unsecured loan, and the claim is on dollars from the account holder and/or card holder or their estates. In case of fraud or bankruptcy, there may be some clawback opportunities on transactions though.

Yes, thank you, this clarifies what I'm trying to express.

I did not know the difference between a secured and an unsecured loan and that explains a lot. Cases of fraud or bankruptcy are really what I'm mainly talking about.

In most cases where the actual estate is not in the red, the estate will pay the debt and nothing should get repo'ed. If there were a lot of gifts made and cash transferred shortly before the person died, and now the estate is broke, then someone from the creditors' side is likely to seek more information about it, and exercise clawback opportunities.

In bankruptcy, there's a period of transactions that can be reversed, up to 12 months for close relationship. But it probably becomes rapidly difficult to identify these transactions after the borrower dies. I would expect most creditors to send a couple letters and write off the debt, unless it was egregious.

1) PayPal is not a (rogue) private debt collector; they are a financial institution.

2) This took place in the UK. (She owed £3,200).

3) The notice was sent to her, not her family.

4) It seems like she had a credit card with PayPal that had a balance on it (reference to "PayPal Credit"). Doesn't payment to creditors come out of the estate? So it seems PayPal might be legitimately owed if the estate has money. Thus there were no social engineering tactics

PayPal _was_ legitimately owed money. I don't think that's at question - when you die with a debt, that doesn't "erase" the debt. The issue here isn't "dying with debt", it's PayPal's phrasing of this - "Hey, being dead is a violation of your agreement". A less insensitive letter that indicated that there was a $3200 balance against the estate wouldn't have raised any eyebrows (unless UK credit laws are very unusual).

When you die with a debt and the heirs wave their rights to the estate the debt dies with you.


They're not that either, but I think you meant rogue.

Haha, Yes, I certainly did. Fixed.

If you're opening the letter of the deceased person, aren't you likely the the executor of the estate anyway? So you're just asking them to send the same letter again to yourself? I would have though if you aren't the executor then you shouldn't be opening their mail?

> If you're opening the letter of the deceased person, aren't you likely the the executor of the estate anyway?

That's not a reasonable assumption in my view. Why should a widow(er) be prevented from opening their late spouse's mail, even if the executor is another person (say, their lawyer)? Should all mail be passed unopened?

They very frequently do this on the phone, to whatever numbers they have available for the debtor.

But again, if you live in the same house as the deceased person, or have possession of their mobile phone, aren't you likely to also be the executor of the estate? Most people will have their spouse as the executor, so they are the right people to speak to.

The tactics specifically attempt to get a person to begin payments on a debt, rather than the executor, so that the new third party person assumes the debt. In an estate payments for certain categories of debt may be lower priority in settlement. It's done in a very unethical way with specific verbiage and social engineering tactics.

This is also done in cases where the collection agency may be aware that there is a "no getting blood from a stone" scenario of an estate that will have zero value when it is wrapped up, so guilt trip techniques are employed against any reachable family members to attempt to get them to assume payments.


I can’t think of any of my assets that will go through the estate. Our house, cars, life insurance [1], retirement [2] etc. are all either jointly owned or my wife is the beneficiary

Debtors won’t be able to collect anything from “our estate”. Until we both pass.

[1] https://finance.zacks.com/can-life-insurance-proceeds-paid-b...

[2] https://www.thebalance.com/does-an-ira-or-401-k-be-used-to-p...

I always see Paypal's negative stories on Ycombinator and only positive stories of Square & Stripe. Let's not be an unnecessary devil's advocate or a cheerleader!

Excuse me, but Paypal is not a regulated bank in the USA, and they routinely hold customer account money for 6 months.

Additionally, periodically they purge entire business categories by locking accounts until you can prove you're not violating their terms of service du jour.

The complaints about Paypal are justified.

You can say that about anything. Pick a technology/company you like and I'll write an "excuse me, but" piece that "justifiably" criticizes it.

Can you think of any good thing about paypal beyond user experience? I am open to suggestions, but I don't know of anything.

So everything sucks, so what? Are we not allowed to complain?

Have Square or Stripe addressed letters of demand to dead people?

Paypal is too big compared to Square & Stripe combined.Also as per my knowledge, in the case of holding money, it depends on case by case basis. I am extensively using Paypal in my day to day online purchases and i never had any issues. If they are holding money it may be bcoz of some risk associated with that account. Call customer care and your issue will be resolved.

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