Facepalm: While cases of companies chasing relatives of recently deceased customers to settle their debts isn't new, PayPal has taken this to a whole new level. The online payments provider recently sent a letter addressed to a woman who had passed away, explaining that her death meant she was in breach of contract. The firm added that it might take legal action against her as a result.

The bereaved husband of Lindsay Durdle, who died on May 31 aged 37 from breast cancer that spread to her lungs and brain, contacted the BBC after receiving the letter. Howard Durdle says he had provided PayPal with "her death certificate, her will and his ID, as requested."

In response to this documentation, PayPal sent a letter with the headline: "Important: You should read this notice carefully." It read, "This is a default notice served under section 87(1) of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Your account has an outstanding balance of £3,240.72."

"You are in breach of condition 15-4(c) of your agreement with Paypal Credit as we have received notice that you are deceased. In accordance with condition 15-4(c), we are entitled to close your account, terminate your agreement and demand repayment of the full amount outstanding."

The letter goes on to state that "the breach is not capable of remedy," and PayPal may take legal proceedings, restrict credit limits, and/or instruct debt collection agencies to collect repayments.

The BBC reports that PayPal staff contacted Mr. Durdle and explained that the letter was a mistake caused by either a bug, a bad letter template, or human error. The company has now written off the debt and apologized. In a statement to the Next Web, the firm said it was "urgently reviewing our internal processes to ensure this does not happen again."

"I'm in a reasonable place at the moment - I've got quite a level head on my shoulders - and am quite capable of dealing with paperwork like this," Mr. Durdle said.

"But I'm a member of the charity Widowed and Young, and I've seen first-hand in there how a letter like this or something like it can completely derail somebody.