Credit union accused of taking money from widow for husband's credit card debt without telling her

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip KGO logo
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Widow fights interest charges for bill she says she never got
Two years after her husband's death, a Fremont widow discovered her credit union had been auto-deducting minimum payments from her account.

FREMONT, Calif. -- How much is a widow responsible for her late husband's credit card debt? That's a question that came up after one woman noticed her credit union had been withdrawing money from her account without her knowledge.

Gayle Housden lived in Fremont, California, for more than 30 years before recently moving to Lake Tahoe.

She likes to pass the time doing jigsaw puzzles.

Now she has a bigger puzzle to worry about -- why would Kinecta Federal Credit Union bill her without notifying her?

Gayle lost her husband Robert Christopher Housden at the young age of 62 to cancer in 2019 after 32 years of marriage.

The two made it a point to have two separate credit cards.

"My husband and I had each purposely gotten our own credit card so if one of us (got) lost or stolen we had another one to go back to," she said.

They did have a joint bank account.

She says she discovered after taking a closer look at her bank statement that Kinecta had been deducting payments each month from that account for her husband's credit balance.

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"And every month they charged interest and took the minimum payment," she said.

The debits each month totaled about $25.

At the current rate of payments, it would have taken seven years to pay off what started as a $1,000 debt.

"I'll pay whatever the outstanding balance was, when my husband died. I don't think I should have to pay the interest of the two years because I didn't know," Housden said.

She says a bank rep told her that's not how the system works and she would need to pay the interest.

That's when she turned to our sister station in San Francisco, KGO-TV.

KGO-TV contacted Kinecta; the credit union told them: "We realize that the death of a loved one can be emotionally difficult time for the survivors. Our member concierge team connected with Mrs. Housden and immediately resolved her issues and concerns to her satisfaction including reimbursement of the credit card interest assessed."

"I appreciate the speed with which they corrected this issue once you guys contacted them," said Housden. "But it should have never gotten to that point."

Kinecta says debts of an individual pass to an estate. It suggests all financial records and account information be kept in a secure location that is shared with the trust to assist the survivors.