Jump to content

[GA] Medical "Debt" by Collection Agency on my credit report.


ca_newbie
 Share

Recommended Posts

Back in 2009 while I was a graduate student in Georgia, I visited a specialist for a health issue. He charged about $250 which was the wrong amount (overcharged me by charging me for services they did not perform.) When I received a bill, I tried calling the doctors office to fix the wrong amount. Since I was graduating and moving to a different state (California), I dropped the thread after a few phone calls. They did not call me back. So finally, I wrote them a letter about the issue and sent it via certified mail (from CA). A few days later I got the letter as undeliverable (returned to sender). The reason cited was that the address was incomplete. This was the exact address on the doctor's business card and on the bill that I had received. I forgot about it.

Today, when I checked my credit report (I'm preparing to buy a house), I noticed an "adverse" account. Apparently the doctors office handed over my details to a collection agency which put an adverse entry in the credit report for $245 (again the wrong! amount). This entry was put on my report in 03/2012 and update in 05/2012. I never heard from neither the doctor's office or the collection agency. The original bill was dated 11/2009. It's been 4 years since and nobody has contacted me yet.

How do I proceed from this point? I want that entry removed from my credit report as it is not my fault that they billed me the wrong amount, did not follow up on my phone calls or put the wrong address.From my research, I have three options:

  • Contact the collection agency, offer to pay the amount in full and ask them to delete the entry from my credit report.
  • Open up a small claims case in my local CA court. However, I am unclear as to whether the California small claims court has the right to preside over this case as the creditor is in Georgia and this whole ordeal occurred while I was in Georgia.
  • Lawyer up and seek their expertise in fixing this issue.

My questions -

  1. What course of action is most advisable?
  2. I would like to get some pro-bono or cheap advice/consultation first from a lawyer before I jump into the whole court route. Where can I find such advise in California?
  3. How much would this case cost (ballpark)? Would it be worth the legal hassle? I would like to seek damages as these negative reports can hinder my ability to seek employment, housing (renting / owning) etc.

Thoughts?

TIA!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I want that entry removed from my credit report as it is not my fault that they billed me the wrong amount, did not follow up on my phone calls or put the wrong address.

 

But you do owe them money and it is your fault that you did not continue to follow up until someone responded to you.  Their not following up does not mean they can't turn the debt over to collections or report it.

 

I have three options:

  • Contact the collection agency, offer to pay the amount in full and ask them to delete the entry from my credit report.
  • Open up a small claims case in my local CA court. However, I am unclear as to whether the California small claims court has the right to preside over this case as the creditor is in Georgia and this whole ordeal occurred while I was in Georgia.
  • Lawyer up and seek their expertise in fixing this issue.

 

 

The first option of a pay for delete is likely going to be the fastest.

 

Option 2 will not work as the California courts have no jurisdiction over a business in Georgia.

 

Option 3 is an option but an expensive one.

 

My questions -

  1. What course of action is most advisable?
  2. I would like to get some pro-bono or cheap advice/consultation first from a lawyer before I jump into the whole court route. Where can I find such advise in California?
  3. How much would this case cost (ballpark)? Would it be worth the legal hassle? I would like to seek damages as these negative reports can hinder my ability to seek employment, housing (renting / owning) etc.

 

1.  My opinion: pay for delete is the fastest way to get rid of this and cheapest.  If you are looking to buy a house a lawsuit or fighting over it will take the longest.  

 

2.  Pro bono is typically reserved for criminal cases or civil rights.  You would likely have to pay and a first consultation would be a couple hundred dollars.  You need a GA lawyer not CA since the provider is there.

 

3.  Unless you have proof that THIS account reporting denied you credit or anything else you won't get damages.  My guess is that you would have to hire a lawyer in GA to file the case (assuming one would) and that would cost several thousand dollars in a retainer fee.  Chances of success slim to none with this plan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest usctrojanalum

You're going to have to work with doctor office and CA in getting the account removed from your report.  I'd start by calling doctor office and see what they tell you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

Ok sorry for the long hiatus. I was trying to figure out more information. Here are the details -

 

  • I called the Collection Agency and asked them about the debt.
    • They said the doctor's office has turned over the debt to them (sounded like they've bought it)
    • They will not delete the debt from my report even if I pay them in full
    • Here's the interesting part - they have the wrong phone number, wrong bill amount (off by $5) listed for me
    • They were not very forthcoming w.r.t helping me
  • Next, I called the doctor's office and got the following info -
    • The doctor is out of practice & has been out of practice for a while (~3 years). They said someone else handles his billing related issues and gave me a phone number to call. That number just leads to a voicemail box. I left a VM but nobody has called me back yet.

 

The collection agency's name is "Professional Credit Management" (http://www.pro-credit.com). Since they have the wrong phone number, I am sure their calls did not reach me. I also am sure their letters went to my old address since they must've tried mailing me a year or two AFTER I moved (USPS only forwards mail for a year after your move).

 

Can someone please help me sort out this matter? I would ideally like to take this entry off my credit report.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Folks, I was looking at the sample debt validation letter here - http://www.creditinfocenter.com/forms/sampleletter9.shtml

 

The letter talks about negative credit report entries. Specifically - 

 

 

If your offices have reported invalidated information to any of the three major Credit Bureau's (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion), said action might constitute fraud under both Federal and State Laws. Due to this fact, if any negative mark is found on any of my credit reports by your company or the company that you represent I will not hesitate in bringing legal action against you for the following:

  • Violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
  • Defamation of Character

 

I have two questions here - 

  1. The collection agency has already put in a negative entry on my credit report. So, is this paragraph still applicable?
  2. Could you please clarify what does invalidated information mean in this line? - "If your offices have reported invalidated information to any of the three major Credit Bureau's (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion), said action might constitute fraud under both Federal and State Laws" 
  3. Are they in violation of FCRA/FDCPA if I have not received a written communication from them regarding the debt?

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's the latest if anybody is interested. Apparently the doctor's practice shutdown back in 2010. Before it shutdown, I had mailed a letter (certified of course) to his office disputing the amount on the bill. This letter was returned to me as undeliverable. But thankfully, I saved it for all these years and it bears the postmark that clearly showed I had mailed them before the office closed down.

 

In the past three years, the back office dealing with his billing affairs changed once and latest back office sent the bill to collections which is where my problems started. I managed to get in touch with them and explained the situation. They did not believe me until I produced the postmarked envelop showing them that I had infact made reasonable attempts to settle the bill.

 

Thankfully, they listened and they called of their CA. As it stands my collections account in canceled with the CA however when I called them about the negative entry on my report, they said they could not do anything about it since my account was open with them for over a year.

 

Since I only pulled 1 credit report (Transunion) I am planning to pull reports from the remaining two CRAs to see if they've put negative entries on them. If they indeed have put a negative entry with all three CRAs what should my next step be?

 

At this point, I have sent a certified mail to the back office to issue me a letter saying that the debt was reported in error and that the negative entries should be taken off my credit report permanently.

 

Once I have that letter in hand and the credit reports, I am planning to write a letter to the CA asking them to take off the entries as they were wrongly put on there. Concurrently I will write letters to the CRAs disputing the account on my credit report.

 

Does this sound like a good strategy?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Update - So, I checked my credit reports and the rest are clean. Only transunion has the adverse entry. I received a letter from the Doctor's office stating that I don't owe them anything and that they have no proof that I owe them the money as the office is now closed. They also confirmed they have closed the account with the collections agency. However two things bother me - 1. They mentioned the wrong amount on the letter 2. They did not sign it :(

 

I have also sent a letter to the CRA disputing the claim and in fact asked them to delete the adverse entry. I also sent the CA a letter stating that their claim is invalid and that they should remove the entry at once else I will file a suit for defamation, financial hardship and lost credit etc. Not sure whether it'll work...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another update - I was pleasantly surprised today when I pulled my credit report on creditkarma and it reported a 46 point jump in my credit score. When I checked what caused it, apparently the adverse entry was removed from the report. I just couldn't believe it so I purchased 3 credit bureau report just to double check and it too did not contain the adverse entry.

 

Question - I will retain all proof and communication. However, should I get something in writing from the CA that the adverse entry will never be put back on my report? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Question - I will retain all proof and communication. However, should I get something in writing from the CA that the adverse entry will never be put back on my report? 

 

NO CA is going to give you that letter.  The office is closed and the entry gone.  I seriously doubt that it will be re-inserted because there is no business entity to do so.  Keep the documentation and if the CA does re-insert for some reason send an intent to sue letter and it will drop right back off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.