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Debt validation question

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I requested validation from a debt collector who sent me a letter about a medical bill I owe and was making small monthly payments on.I requested they send me proof they have been assigned the debt or own the debt as well as any signed agreement with my signature and how they came to the amount they claim I owe.

 

Over a month later and without any sort of delivery confirmation, they finally mailed me a letter showing all the payments I made and the services that were performed but there is no proof they own or were assigned the debt and nothing with my signature in the validation they sent me. The amount owed is around $1950. I was just gonna ignore these folks but the fear of a lawsuit is in the back of my mind so I want advice on how I should.proceed.

 

Thanks!

 

DG 

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What is required for validation with medical debts is entirely different from credit card debts.  Due to HIPAA if they sent you all that information they DO have a business relationship and are assigned this debt.  Medical debt is rarely sold but even so due to HIPAA if they don't own it they can't collect on it.  The risk of HIPAA violations is far worse than FDCPA or FCRA violations.

 

They don't have to send you a copy of the financial guarantee you signed with the practice agreeing to pay for it to be valid.  They only have to produce that if they sue you in court and that holds true for credit card debt too.

 

If you were making payments on this debt then it is yours.  You can resume paying to the original medical provider, offer a lump sum settlement, or ignore it and hope they don't sue while you live with it on your CR until it drops off.

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What is required for validation with medical debts is entirely different from credit card debts.  

@Clydesmom - Not per the FDCPA.  

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@Clydesmom - Not per the FDCPA.  

 

Not from a credit standpoint but from a HIPAA standpoint.  You know that the standard for FDCPA validation for the consumer request is so low you can trip on it.  

 

However, from a HIPAA standard it is so high that NO CA that does not have a business relationship will validate the account if they do not have one.  The reason is reporting a HIPAA violation can result in fines so draconian they can put a business under.  There is no trial you simply are investigated and then DHS renders a decision based on their investigation.  

 

The second fall out is if you lose and are fined under HIPAA you can then lose your license, no reputable provider will ink a contract with you for a business relationship once you have been fined for HIPAA violations and there goes your business.  Good luck getting hired by a provider directly once that is on your record.  

 

The added teeth of HIPAA makes validation easier for a CA collecting on a medical debt not harder.

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I am not trying to avoid paying this debt but I would rather pay the original creditor and can only afford small monthly payments. The last 2 payments I mailed to the orginal creditor were cashed even though the account had already been sent to collections. Those 2 payments were reflected in the statements the debt collector sent me.

 

I do not like talking to these folks on the phone so if I just continued mailing monthly payments to the OC and explain to the debt collector in a letter that I refuse to pay them but am still paying the OC what would happen?  Im trying to avoid a lawsuit.

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@Clydesmom - so you are saying that sending out validation without tripping up HIPPA is tough?

 

Not only tough but risky because there is a HIPAA violation if there is no business relationship.  NO business relationship means the CA can't validate.  That is why the "WhyChat" method works but he doesn't tell people that.  He relies on the unknown fact that it isn't data mining but that the provider no longer uses that CA and there is no business relationship so when the consumer disputes it via the CRAs it is deleted because the CA cannot legally validate it without violating HIPAA.  

 

They are FAR more afraid of a HIPAA violation than a CC collection agency is of a FDCPA violation.  The reason is all it takes is a simple email to report a HIPAA violation and have an inspector in a CA or provider's office going through ALL their files.  Then they can fine them for EVERY violation they find not just the one reported.  They can also go back 10 years looking for them.  

FEW consumers file FDCPA lawsuits because of the time, expense, and fear of court.  LOTS of people file HIPAA violations because it is free, easy, and doesn't involve court at all.

 

It isn't a billing issue but a MAJOR hospital in California SELF reported 14 violations of celebrity medical records by employees who had no permissible purpose to be in their charts.  They figured because they self reported (no celeb ever complained) that they would only be censured.  WRONG.  They were fined $250,000 for it.  Now imagine if you are a small CA and they find that you have 30 violations and you are fined several thousand dollars a piece.  Business insurance does not pay that and if you don't have the money you are out of business.

 

That is why medical debt is actually easier to deal with in a way.  HIPAA gives consumers added protections that FDCPA does not.

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I am not trying to avoid paying this debt but I would rather pay the original creditor and can only afford small monthly payments. The last 2 payments I mailed to the orginal creditor were cashed even though the account had already been sent to collections. Those 2 payments were reflected in the statements the debt collector sent me.

 

I do not like talking to these folks on the phone so if I just continued mailing monthly payments to the OC and explain to the debt collector in a letter that I refuse to pay them but am still paying the OC what would happen?  Im trying to avoid a lawsuit.

 

Just keep paying the OC.  Unless they stop taking payments (and few will) you are fine.  

 

The CA can NOT sue you as they do not own the debt.  I would send them a letter stating you have already made arrangements for payment and that they need not contact you except in writing.  

 

MOST providers have no interest in going to court and as long as you keep making payments the account is listed in good standing and should not go to suit.  No hospital wants to be seen as the big evil business that sued the poor patient who made payments regularly.  It is bad PR.

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I am not trying to avoid paying this debt but I would rather pay the original creditor and can only afford small monthly payments. The last 2 payments I mailed to the orginal creditor were cashed even though the account had already been sent to collections. Those 2 payments were reflected in the statements the debt collector sent me.

 

I do not like talking to these folks on the phone so if I just continued mailing monthly payments to the OC and explain to the debt collector in a letter that I refuse to pay them but am still paying the OC what would happen?  Im trying to avoid a lawsuit.

I would continue to pay the original creditor.  How much longer do you think that will take?  I doubt if you are paying that you will be sued.  

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medical debt is usually given to the CA to collect, not sold.  The CA's get a commission, I believe it is something like 30% of the debt, it doesn't matter who you pay once it is turned over, they will still get their cut.  There are 2 here in my town that work with the 2 hospitals.  My brother was sued for his wife's medical debt last year, even though she incurred it before they were married.  They won.  What was interesting is Colorado is not a community property state, EXCEPT for medical debt.  Even though she incurred the debt before they were married, they were able to name him in the lawsuit, and collect because they were married, his income is her income as long as they were married at the time of filing the lawsuit.  not fair I say.  That is what the court found in his case.

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Thanks. Im gonna keep mailing the OC checks and I guess I will just not bother doing anything else with the CA. I have another medical debt that was also just sent to collections as well that I never missed a payment on.It is a higher amount around $6000 and was sent to NCO Financial. I have not requested validation on this one yet. 

 

Should I just keep paying the OC on this one too and just not bother to even respond to NCO's letter that I have 30 days to request validation?  

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I would still send a DV.  If you are paying on it, you might call the hospital and ask why it was sent to collections.  Are you paying less than what they require? You might be able to work out an agreement.

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Thanks. Im gonna keep mailing the OC checks and I guess I will just not bother doing anything else with the CA. I have another medical debt that was also just sent to collections as well that I never missed a payment on.It is a higher amount around $6000 and was sent to NCO Financial. I have not requested validation on this one yet. 

 

Should I just keep paying the OC on this one too and just not bother to even respond to NCO's letter that I have 30 days to request validation?  

Definitely send a DV. 

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NCO is a different ball game. NCO bought that debt in a portfolio with hundreds maybe thousands of other debts.....they cannot in any way prove they own the debt. Send them a refusal to pay letter.

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What if I just do nothing with NCO and just don't respond to their letter? My only concern is being sued.If the OC sold the debt to NCO then does that mean they probably won't sue?  

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no it does not mean that.  they may look at your credit report and decide if you are collectable.  If you have other settlements, what looks like a steady job, they might decide to sue.  If you have alot of chage offs, and you don't look like a good canidate, they may or may not.  roll of the dice.

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What if I just do nothing with NCO and just don't respond to their letter? My only concern is being sued.If the OC sold the debt to NCO then does that mean they probably won't sue?  

I would take action, send a refusal to pay or DV letter.  

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Never ever just sit and wait, protect your rights in case they do file suit. Send them a dv first and wait to see if they respond, then send a refusal to pay. Do not get elaborate in the refusal to pay letter, just simply state "I refuse to pay this debt in full or any portion of it."

You say the hospital gave them a list of the procedures? That violates HIPPa for the "minimum necessary” use and disclosure. A collection agency does not need to know what procedures you had, all they need to know is that their client claims you owe them moneys for service and procedures.

 

A “consent” document is not a valid permission to use or disclose protected health information for a purpose that requires an “authorization” under the Privacy Rule (45 CFR 164.508)

 

A health care provider MAY but is not required to obtain the HIPPA release form,,,I myself never sign this form, it makes them mad but they cannot force you to sign it or deny you treatment if you do not sign it.

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Thanks so much! Ok I think I get this now. As far as the first debt (The one I sent the dv letter to and they validated and sent me a list of procedures I had done) I need to just continue paying the orginal creditor? Do I need to write the CA or the OC a letter back and say anything else to them as to why Im not paying the CA but the OC?

 

As far as the other medical debt that was just placed with NCO I need to send them a dv letter and wait for their response?

 

I really appreciate all the help!

 

Thanks so much:)

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Thanks so much! Ok I think I get this now. As far as the first debt (The one I sent the dv letter to and they validated and sent me a list of procedures I had done) I need to just continue paying the orginal creditor?

Yes.  

 

Do I need to write the CA or the OC a letter back and say anything else to them as to why Im not paying the CA but the OC?

If they are reporting the account to your credit report, I would. 

 

As far as the other medical debt that was just placed with NCO I need to send them a dv letter and wait for their response?

Yes.  

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Just mailed another payment to the first OC and am preparing whychats dv letter to send to NCO. Im gonna pay the OC of the account that holds the NCO debt as well. Thanks again!

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Im gonna pay the OC of the account that holds the NCO debt as well. Thanks again!

If they will take it, that's definitely best.  

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What does it mean that they cash my checks yet do not send me a receipt as in the case of my first OC? I just mailed them another payment but don't expect the OC and to mail anything back. As long as they keep cashing my checks Im happy but I was wondering if maybe I should write them and tell them I refuse to pay the CA they sent my account to and will continue to pay them instead. 

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Don't send personal checks because they can transfer the checks to the CA.  Send Bank Cashiers Checks or Bank Money orders and make sure you put For Deposit Only Such and Such Medical Place on the endorsement. 

 

If I were you I would read Why Chat's information on Medical Collections. 

 

I know the method only works if you have ALL the funds, but I'm only telling you to read it due to the personal checks compared to Bank cashier's check info.

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