Steps to take for unknown medical collection accounts on credit reports

medical-collection-accounts

Question: Thanks for all the info you have provided. My husband owes over $10k in medical bills from February 2012 to May 2013 I did not know about. At one point I remember paying some of that I believe they even garnished his wages but cannot obtain information anymore since the employer has closed since. Besides this was over 6 years ago. When I tried to contact the creditor the lady was rude and said I now owed over $10k plus interest and how was I going to pay.

I explained I had no recollection of this and wanted proof and had not received anything in the mail. She said it would be hard since it was so long ago but we can negotiate for 7k. I told her we didn’t have that kind of money. And left it at that. Can you provide any advice on how to proceed I am trying to clean my husband’s credit and this is really the only derogatory stuff he has. Thank you in advance. Any options or suggestions are appreciated. Also, what do you think about credit repair companies, can they help me?

Let me first address credit repair companies. As long as you research their licensing with your state and they have a fairly long history of existence I think they can help consumers. However, they are not doing anything you can’t do for yourself. It’s also understandable that you may not have the time needed to commit to credit repair, it can be frustrating and demanding of your time.

I partner with Lexington Law to refer clients to them. They have been in business over 20 years. My only issue with Lexington Law is that you need to stay on top of them to ensure the credit repair process is not being unnecessarily drawn out.

Wow! I find it extremely telling that a debt collector essentially informed you they have no proof. Clearly they just want you to pay almost any amount, without providing proof.

The debt collector may have already violated the FDCPA and here is why: Once a debt collector has initiated its first communication with you, they are required by law within in 5 days from the initial contact to tell you:

  • the amount of the debt
  • the name of the creditor to whom the debt is currently owed
  • you have 30 days to dispute the validity of the debt
  • if you don’t dispute the debt’s validity, the collector will assume it is valid
  • if you do dispute the debt’s validity within the 30 days, the agency will send you verification of it, and
  • if you send a written request within that 30 days for the name and address of the original creditor, the agency will provide it, if different from the current creditor. (Also referred to as debt validation).

The very purpose of debt validation is to provide consumers like you, who don’t recollect a debt, proof. It’s unreasonable to expect someone to pay a debt collector, out of the blue, any amount they request with no documentation.

Some debt collectors like to just drop a debt onto a consumer’s credit report hoping they will pay it; especially when the consumer has otherwise good credit. They are hoping you panic and pay.

In addition, no consumer should just pay a collection debt without first negotiating a pay for delete. Paying a collection agency without getting the account deleted does nothing to help your credit scores. Paid or unpaid, it’s still a negative tradeline on your credit reports.

See if the collection agency verifies the debt with the credit bureaus.

1. Order your credit reports from Experian, Transunion and Equifax to see if the medical collection debt appears on all of your credit reports. If you already have your credit reports, you can dispute the debt for each credit bureau it appears. If you have done so in the last 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com.

2. Dispute with the credit bureaus. You want to see if the collection agency verifies the account with the credit bureaus. How can they verify something, they admitted to not having any documentation for?

It’s best to dispute in writing because you want to create a paper trail in case you need it down the road. Use a simple letter like this:

I recently received a copy of my credit report no. _______. Upon review I discovered the below-listed accounts in which I have no knowledge of and no records for:

Account No.:
Account No.:

I am requesting copies of the documents used to verify the accuracy of the accounts. In particular I am requesting you provide the following:

1. Name and address of the medical providers
2. Dates of services
3. Person to whom services were provided

If you are able to provide the above information I will also need the name of the person providing this data. I don’t recall any of these accounts plus, they may be obsolete.

If you are unable to provide this information I am requesting the accounts be deleted immediately.

Wait to see if the accounts are deleted; if so, no other steps are needed. If not, follow the instructions at this site called WHYCHAT. It looks a little scattered but the HIPAA letters to the collection agency and subsequent HIPAA letters to the credit bureaus work well in getting medical accounts deleted from credit reports.

 

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