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Is this validation? What's the next step?

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A collection company has contacted me regarding medical bills they say are my wifes and therefore mine. I recently sent them a validation letter asking for contracts, or anything with my signature along with numerous other things. I also sent them a form to fill out with additional requests for information. They sent me computer printouts that are difficult to understand along with the following letter:

Pursuant to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act you are entitled to validation of the debt for which **** Collection Service is seeking to recover. For your convince I have enclosed copies of the itemized statements from Medical Service A and Medical Service B as that validation. **** Collection Service is the assignee, for purposes of collection of the above referenced account or claim by Medical Service A and Medical Service B against you. Such account or claim is rooted in express or implied contract of the principle and quantum meruit, as it represents charges for medical services rendered to you.

At this time **** Collection Service, will cease and desist contacting you via telephone or mailers except to respond to any specific written communication from you concerning the debts you specified. Under section 805 © of the Fair Debt Collection Practices act we are entitled however to notify the consumer that the debt collector or creditor may invoke specified remedies which are ordinarily invoked by such debt collector or creditor in order to collect the debt.

**** Collection Service feels we have provided you with the proper validation as required under the FDCPA Section 809. If you would like to send to **** Collection Service a specific reason for disputing these debts we would be glad to forward that on to the individual clients for review. Verification has been provided, we specifically reject and disclaim any “tacit” understanding you are attempting to establish by our refusal to complete and return your form.

Pursuant to your letter we will cease all written and telephone communication concerning these specific debts, unless to respond to any correspondence from you, or to invoke our rights under section 805 © of the FDCPA. If you have any further questions concerning this matter please don’t hesitate to write or call.

Is this proper validation? I find it frustrating that all they have to supply is a printout. I could VERY easily duplicate this printout and put any ones name on it I choose. Does this mean I can put the gentlemans name on MY printout and then harass him untill he pays me?

He says "Such account or claim is rooted in express or implied contract of the priniciple and quantum meruit, as it represents charges for medical services renedered to you". There were absolutely NO medical services provided to me and I am frankly not certain my wife received the claimed services either.

What about the need to give him a SPECIFIC reason I am disputing this debt?

Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Essentially you will tell them you did not incur the charges and that you will assist them in finding out who did. It was not proper validation because validation requires more than printout and the printout is all they apparently have to collect on. Basically all they have is hearsay evidence. The part about C&D means in order to communicate with you they may have to do that in court since you have requested they not contact you by phone. You could do some due diligence on your own by contacting whomever is billing for payment.

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Medical debts really suck. Before you do anything else, try to get as much info as you can because it will allow you to deal with them better. You need to find out if these debts really belong to your wife and if she actually had those procedures.

I posted a step-by-step process that occurs concerning medical billing recently here on this board. Read through it. Contact the insurance company, if one was involved to find out what they received as billing, what they paid and what they didn't pay and why they didn't pay it. Many times, insurance companies are the culprit regarding overdue bills because they screw up and don't pay or the doctors/hospital didn't file the right forms. It's safe because the insurance company is an intermediary and not collecting anything.

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First of all, what state are you in ??

Unless you're in a community property state, or unless you were the holder of the insurance company benefits that were used for medical services, you are NOT automatically liable for your wife's debts. That BS is just too prevalent a marriage license doens't make you automatically liable for your spouses debts, not even in commuity property states.

When were these alleged medical services rendered ???

Did this printout give any info as to the treament or diagnosis ?? Could be a HIPAA violation staring you in the face too.

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First of all, what state are you in ??

Unless you're in a community property state, or unless you were the holder of the insurance company benefits that were used for medical services, you are NOT automatically liable for your wife's debts. That BS is just too prevalent a marriage license doens't make you automatically liable for your spouses debts, not even in commuity property states.

When were these alleged medical services rendered ???

Did this printout give any info as to the treament or diagnosis ?? Could be a HIPAA violation staring you in the face too.

I'm in Idaho. Idaho is a community property state. I'm not sure about being the hoolder of the insurance company benifits...... we are on the same policy along with our kids. We pay our own insurance it is not an employer plan. Please tell me more about the debts possibly not being my responsibility in a community property state.

The medical services were rendered just over a year ago. There were codes for the treatments but almost none of it made since to me. That is why I am not sure if they really are legit charges to my wife.

On a seperate but interesting note My wife has a bill that we know is hers but the hospital refuses to remove a charge for a pregnancy test. My wife had her tubes tied two years ago!!!

What is HIPPA? Can you direct me to somewhere to learn more? I will search the forum in the mean time.

Thanks for the info so far guys.

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I'm in Idaho. Idaho is a community property state. I'm not sure about being the hoolder of the insurance company benifits...... we are on the same policy along with our kids. We pay our own insurance it is not an employer plan. Please tell me more about the debts possibly not being my responsibility in a community property state.

The medical services were rendered just over a year ago. There were codes for the treatments but almost none of it made since to me. That is why I am not sure if they really are legit charges to my wife.

On a seperate but interesting note My wife has a bill that we know is hers but the hospital refuses to remove a charge for a pregnancy test. My wife had her tubes tied two years ago!!!

What is HIPPA? Can you direct me to somewhere to learn more? I will search the forum in the mean time.

Thanks for the info so far guys.

Maybe the MODs could post a sticky on Community Property. I don't really understand its impact.

CAs must be licensed and pay a $5000 bond in Idaho. There is an exemption for out-of-state CAs that are licensed in their home state so check on the license.

Use the pregnancy test issue as leverage on the hospital. I mean get downright dirty and nasty and threaten to go to the AMA and any other professional organization that governs hospitals. Call/e-mail the local TV media consumer guru. This issue suggests incompetence on the part of the hospital and doctor (gee anyone ever hear of reading a patient's chart/history?).

Surf the internet to find the medical codes since they are uniform. I might do that just so we can post them here as a sticky.

That fact that you pay your own insurance is irrelevant. What is relevant is that you have insurance. What happens is the insurance company balks at paying for a procedure/test in whole or in part, because they claim it is unnecessary and requests justification from the hospital/doctor. If they drop the ball and don't respond (which is usually the case) you get stuck with the bill.

Research the codes then request that the hospital/doctor provide all correspondence from the insurer so you can find out what was paid and why and what wasn't paid and why not.

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Go to Page 23 or thereabouts in this section and look for the thread titled "????? about HIPPAA Act". Be sure to read all links. This will give you the lowdown. Next, call your insurance carrier to get the codes translated. Then ask your insurance exactly what items you, or your wife, are actually liable for. They will give you the exact co-pay or cost share of the claim and break it down for you. One item beneficiaries are not aware of most of the time is in ER charges. An example is some ER's will charge an extra fee if you show up after a certain time of the night. The majority of the Health Insurance Carriers call this "Mutually Exclusive" and charges are denied as the main ER Charge is the only one excepted. This charge is not to be billed to the beneficiary. Another example is the beneficiary is charged for items not covered by their insurance. They are only liable if the provider adheres exactly to the rules which usually means that the beneficiary has signed an agreement, prior to service, that they are aware the service is not covered and will accept responsibility. If the provider does not get this signature, they cannot bill the beneficiary. Many Medical providers try to cause the beneficiary to pay for items they are not liable for as they assume the beneficiary has no idea of what is going on, and that there are rules regarding accepting assignment. What this means is most carriers have a "Rules And Regulations For Accepting Assignment" that must be abided by. In short, if a provider agrees to accept assignment, they must abide by the rules. This also means that a beneficiary is only liable for the amount shown on their EOB's as the "Patients Responsibility". This is why some providers do not accept assignment as they want to be able to rip off the beneficiary as much as they can, while at the same time, avoid being held liable for what they have done.

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Below is a ROUGH draft of what I am thinking of sending to these people in response to their letter. PLEASE feel free to edit it.

I just don't see how what they sent me can be proper validation. By providing mere printouts (that anybody can fabricate on a computer) they have in no way proven that I am responsible for these charges. How do they know that one of the other 8 people in my city that have the same name as me didn't incur these charges? Short of a doctor that can take the stand and swear that it was me that they saw over a year ago then how can they ever possibly prove that I am responsible for these services?

Am I on the right track?

Letter:

I am in receipt of your letter dated June 16, 2004. Your letter contained generic computer printouts that were difficult to follow at best. You supplied these printouts in an attempt to validate the debt you claim I owe.

The printouts that you provided do not constitute proper validation required by the FDCPA. I have enclosed for your review an opinion letter from Mr. Wollman of the FTC.

The printouts do not contain any proof that I owe any debt to you or that I was the one that incurred these charges.

I am again giving you notice that I am disputing these debts. . I do not believe that I owe the money that you claim I owe.

I again respectfully request that you provide me, in writing, with the following:

• What the money you say I owe is for;

• Explain and show me how you calculated what you say I owe;

• Provide me with copies of any papers that show I agreed to pay what you say I owe; including the Agreement that bears my signature, wherein I agreed to pay the creditor.

• Show me that you are licensed in my state, and provide me with your license numbers

• The agreement with your client that grants you the authority to collect on this alleged debt

• Any insurance claims been made by any creditor regarding this account.

In addition to the above requested information I am again enclosing the Creditor Disclosure Form that you have previously refused to fill out.

Your prompt attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.

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ok guys I need a little more input.

I did send the letter that I was working on in my last post. I just sent it yesterday.

Today I received a letter from the CA that I would summerize as a demand letter. It requested payment and went on to say that if I sent partial payment that they would not consider that a payment in full.

The thing is in my original validation letter I sent them I stated that under the FDCPA they could no longer contact me except to provide validation, inform me of a specific remedy they were pursuing etc.....

In their response to me they acknowledged this fact and said they would follow the law and not contact me. Quote: "Pursuant to your letter we will cease all written and telephone communication concerning these specific debts, unless to respond to any correspondence from you, or to invoke our rights under section 805 © of the FDCPA. If you have any further questions concerning this matter please don’t hesitate to write or call."

Is this a violation? How do I proceed?

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I could really use some help here. I sent the letter above and received a response today. Here is the first part of it:

Apparently there seems to be some confusion on your part as to what the definition is of "validation" according to the FDCPA. In Anderson v. Canyon State, the Federal Court of Appeals ruled that, "with regard to ascertaining the validity of a debt, the FDCPA, requires only that a collector verify the debt with the creditor. The court specifically ruled that a collector does not have to independently determine if the debt is aurhorized by a contract or statute". In the same case, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed by holding that, "verification of a debt involves nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed". (See Chaudhry v Gallerizzo, 174 F.3d 394)(4th Cir 1999)

The letter goes on and closes with this statement "Action collection Services, Inc. considers your dispute of these accounts a closed matter as all of the proper validation has been provided to you neumerous times."

This is really frustrating. I feel they violated FDCPA by sending me the recent demand letter and then they send me this letter basically saying I can't dispute this debt.

Can anyone give me some guidance?

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I guess I should have read all of my mail before posting here. I also had a letter from an attorney that says:

"I am the attorney for Action Collection Service, Inc. they are the assigness of the below referenced debt(s) and have contacted me about preparing a suit in order to collect them. This letter will serve to notify you of my involvement and inform you of certain rights you have arising from my involvement.

The letter then has a version of the required FDCPA disclaimer.

So Now what? Do I just pay them so they will go away?

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From their letter:

according to the FDCPA. In Anderson v. Canyon State, the Federal Court of Appeals ruled that, "with regard to ascertaining the validity of a debt, the FDCPA, requires only that a collector verify the debt with the creditor.

You state they sent you a print out of some records with the codes listed. Those codes do specify what treatment was given, what procedures done etc. However, IF this printout did NOT come from the hospital, but from the CA's own files, its NOT validation per the FTC Wollman letter:

The statute requires that the debt collector obtain verification of the debt and mail it to the consumer (emphasis mine). Because one of the principal purposes of this Section is to help consumers who have been misidentified by the debt collector or who dispute the amount of the debt, it is important that the verification of the identity of the consumer and the amount of the debt be obtained directly from the creditor. Mere itemization of what the debt collector already has does not accomplish this purpose. As stated above, the statute requires the debt collector, not the creditor, to mail the verification to the consumer.

Medical collections and validation can be tricky because providers often DO send the complete record of the account, including an itemization of treatment, to the CA.

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Validation under the FDCPA generally means showing that you have the right person. Many requests for "validation" include wanting copies of all signed contracts, proof the agency is licensed in the state, copies of the agreement between the creditor and the agency, and all kinds of other such garbage.

An itemized statement from the creditor is generally considered to be enough for validation. Agencies have learned that they do not have to respond to excessive requests for "validation." Proof the agency is licensed in the state is not "validation." Copies of the agreement with the creditor and the agency is not "validation." Consumers often ask for signatures when they know they haven't signed anything, or tapes of telephone conversations, or copies of every transaction that has ever happened on the account. These are not "validation."

Consumers are led to think that they can request validation at any time, even after paying the debt. They are often told that the agency has thirty days to respond to a request, not the real fact that the consumer has thirty days to to request validation.

The Federal Trade Commission, the organization that regulates collection agencies, has stated that validation of debt is: "intended to assist the consumer when a debt collector inadvertently contacts the wrong consumer at the start of his collection efforts.” 53 Fed. Reg. 50109 (Dec. 13, 1998). Court cases have pretty much upheld this. Some examples:

“[V]erification of a debt involves nothing more than the debt collector confirming in writing that the amount being demanded is what the creditor is claiming is owed; the debt collector is not required to keep detailed files of the alleged debt. Consistent with the legislative history, verification is only intended to 'eliminate the ... problem of debt collectors dunning the wrong person or attempting to collect debts which the consumer has already paid.' S.Rep. No. 95-382, at 4 (1977). There is no concomitant obligation to forward copies of bills or other detailed evidence of the debt.” Chaudhry v. Gallerizzo, 174 F.3d 394, 406 (4th Cir. 1999), cert. denied, 528 U.S. 891 (1999) (citations omitted).

Debt verification is meant to make sure the collector is collecting from the right party.

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superrev, Chaudhry means nothing today. Spears v Brennan is the one used now. And both, actually, have no standing in any court except where they were decided. If one is lucky by having the Judge admit it for discussion or defense, that is entirely up to the presiding court you are in.

Also, you need to read a little deeper into your laws. By your comments, you are claiming that the consumer forfeits their rights to dispute the debt if they fail to respond, in writing, within the 30 days as described in FDCPA 809(B). You are wrong. A consumer never forfeits their rights to dispute a debt. If you think I am wrong, then answer this. A consumer fails to respond in the 30 days, then the CA files suit. As described in FDCPA 809©, the court cannot construe the failure to dispute as an admission of guilt. It cannot be more clear. This clearly means the consumer can request/demand proper validation be presented to the court, which the Judge can and will ask for. Therefore, if what you say is true, what happened to the consumer's rights from day 31 until day in court? Next, read FDCPA 807(Eight). There is no written or time frame requirement to satisfy this section. Even though Brady v Credit Recovery pertains mostly to the reporting side, it still gives a fair discussion on this subject. Also, there are a lot of CA's who are now trying to get this section changed because too many consumers are becoming aware of it.

As described to me by several agencies, including AG's, State Governing Agencies, FTC, and 9 different CA's I have made contact with, not counting the consumer Attorneys who share with us here and one I spoke to personally, the consumer can request validation at any time. FDCPA 809 is simply a "cooling off period". It allows for the CA to make an initial communication/contact and to offer the consumer the opportunity to pay the amount owed or to request proof of liability. If no repsonse, they may assume it is valid. A fair example is the consumer who moved. By the time their forwarded mail and the settling in their new home is reached, here is a collection letter for a Doctor bill that was still being processed by the insurance carrier at time of the move. The consumer reads and realizes, OOPS!, I forgot all about this in the confusion and immediately remits the balance due with apologies. The CA and OC are now paid in full and no negative entry is made on a CR, and everyone is happy. This is the sole purpose of the section. The balance of the section is giving the CA the right to pursue activity if all is followed properly.

To include, the issues I had with a CA regarding Medical debts we were not liable for, I filed a complaint with the particular State Agency who governs them in their State. They tried to use the no writing defense. But, I had proof of my oral contact with respect to the disputes. Short story is the CA got spanked REAL hard by the State and have since, from what I understand, have changed their attitude. One of the OC's involved has had his company spanked by the US Government and are facing sanctioning from some participation in Govenrment programs, not including the fines. The State Agency even called their own Consumer Law Attorney in to read through my complaint and it was agreed I was correct. I had enclosed all Case Law that applied, including, Brady, Spears, and three different U. S. decisions, plus some others that touched on the issues.

Lastly, if you read the whole law, no where does it say the consumer can't dispute the debt or request validation past the 30 days. You may claim that the law also doesn't say they can either. Very true, but, why should only one side of this stand as being true?

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If all you got was a computer printout showing a list of services supposedly provided it is not validation, even under the most conservative and strictest interpretation of the FDCPA.

You will need to obtain more documentation to determine if the debts are valid. Assuming they do actually belong to your wife, you will need to consult with an attorney to determine your liability. The issue is extremely complex and varies from state to state.

You should also ignore superrev's comments since it is obviously a debt collector and will give you erronious and detrimental advice.

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First off, I agree that superrev is a collector and do welcome him/her to the board. I will also respect their comments and advice. But, what I won't do is accept false information. I will admit that that my true feelings of superrev is that he/she has been brainwashed by some "less than honorable" collection agency. Just by some of the comments tells me this. And I want he/she to understand that this is one of the main reasons the FDCPA, FCRA, FACTA, and all other laws exist today, and many times are amended for the very reasons displayed in some of superrev's comments. To include, there is a law firm in Southern California, Newport Beach, I think, that advertises on the web for all collection agencies to call them as they will teach the CA how to "Hedge" the laws to better their bottom line.

To add to what gdouglaslee is saying, a CA's own computer generated printout of an account is not absolute proof and will not stand up in court if disputed by the consumer at that time. Also, I can sit here and generate my own bills to anyone I want to by simply creating a letterhead and format, then go to the "White Pages" and pick a person at random. How many of those I selected would actually pay me without wanting proof from the original creditor. The comment was made as to a consumer asking for a signature to prove validity was not actually part of validation. That is also wrong. If a consumer orders something over the phone from an Ad or something, the representative taking the order either has a form of some sort or a program on the screen, which they will enter all information from the consumer that is required. If all of the information on that "form" matched the particular consumer being dunned, that is sufficient to prove liability as long as the OC can prove they took all precautions to assure proper Identification. The same holds true to a mis-identification. The same representative uses their own "Shorthand" so as to not be on the phone a long time. They are told the name is Mary Anne, with an "E", but enter it as Mary or Mary Ann, without the "E". If one thinks this is wrong, then remember how many different spellings of your name you found on your CR's. The same holds true if you have more than one entry of the same address with minor differences, such as Apartment instead of Space. It is true the verbiage in FDCPA 809 can be considered somewhat vague in it's description of what is validation, which can lead to many assumptions, but, this is what the Wollman letter and Spears is addressing. Another example is the form you sign when you go to the Emergency Room. Most clearly state what a consumer will face if they renege on their repsonsibility of their part of the bill. Such as, the debt could be assigned, a suit filed, interest and fees could be assessed, etc. Some don't have all of this information. In short, what is on the paper is all that can be done. Also, if the State or Federal Law says different by offering more protection, they take precedence. An example of that is the Bad Check Collectors who try and charge all kinds of additional fees which are illegal. The same holds for a CA who is not licensed to collect in a particular State. If a license is required, they must have one to collect, period. If they don't, they should either reassign to one who can or return to the OC.

About the best way to look at this is to remember the sentence in Spears that says, "It does not matter whether the debt is valid. What matters is how the debt is collected", or words to that effect. This is clearly telling everyone that the consumer has the right to assure all collection activity against them is legal, with no variation from the law.

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