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Medical debt and collections

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So approximately 4 months ago I received a notice from a debt collection agency that I owed $4700 to them. I called them the next day and requested a list of what exactly the fee was for, they told me who it was from (a hospital but I already guessed that) and said they would get the detailed report out to me ASAP. I never got the list.

Fast forward four months and my phone starts ringing at least twice a week while I'm at work even though I told them specifically what time not to call. I attempted to return their call the first time I got put on hold for 20 minutes and ended up hanging up, I attempted to call a few days later and got sent to my "agents" voicemail. I left him a voicemail repeating that I would not consent to pay until I saw the list of what I was being charged for. Shortly after I get a letter from them at my new address saying I had been avoiding their attempts to collect the debt and if I didn't pay by the 10th of this month they would get a lawyer involved.

 

My questions: is this legal? and is there anything else I can do? I cannot afford the $4700 right now, but should I set up a payment plan with this company?

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Really? Post the letter word for word. You need to also send them a debt validation in writing, certified. You can say in that letter :

Dear xxxxxxxxx

Please send me a debt verification for this account you claim I owe, phone calls at my work and home are inconvenient, so please use the US mail for any future correspondence.

Thank you macs.

If they call you after they receive the letter, you will have a nice counter claim if they decide to sue you. Don't pay or agree to pay anything yet, you don't even know who is trying to get you to pay. Ex a collection agency for the hospital, or someone who bought the debt.

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Oh and if you know kinda what it is about, when was the last time you paid on the account, or if you haven't paid, when was the debt incurred?

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The debt was incurred in April of this year, I was forced by my manager to go to the hospital for a non-work-related injury.

 

The letter was as follows:

Dear MACS

It appears that you have ignored our requests for payment of this obligation, accordingly we may refer this matter to our attorney for whatever efforts deemed appropriate to collect the obligation.

Should you wish to avoid this, we look forward to discussing this matter with you on or before December 10th, 2013.

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Was this the first letter you received for this debt? And they did not include any language such as " this is an attempt to collect a debt" ?

Did they state who they were. Example, is it the hospital sending that to you, or a collection agency?

Send the debt validation letter.

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Fast forward four months and my phone starts ringing at least twice a week while I'm at work even though I told them specifically what time not to call.

 

My questions: is this legal? and is there anything else I can do? I cannot afford the $4700 right now, but should I set up a payment plan with this company?

 

Telling them when to call or not to call has absolutely NO teeth under the FCDPA laws and they are free to ignore that request.  You must send it in writing for any future calls to be a violation.

 

I would contact the hospital and set up a payment plan with them.  If you are uninsured I would also ask about a charity care discount.  If you have insurance and this is your purchase charity care and/or discounts are not possible under insurance law.  It would be illegal rebating.  Because this debt is only a few months old it is well within the SOL for a lawsuit and that will be far worse.  

 

The debt was incurred in April of this year, I was forced by my manager to go to the hospital for a non-work-related injury.

 

Why you went to the hospital will not be relevant.  The costs for the care were still incurred.  

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I cannot envision any circumstance that would cause me to set a payment plan with a collection agency.

 

If the hospital sent me an EOB and/or bill I should have some information to determine if the collector is demanding an amount approximating what the hospital originally billed. The accuracy of any original billing would be a primary concern of mine.

 

Normally I would expect to see a mini-miranda letter from the collector explaining I have thirty days to dispute the debt. Perhaps that was what the OP received 4 months ago.

 

*I* would probably send a short, focused and likely belated DV letter to the collector. Including a cease and desist notice might increase the odds of a lawsuit but I have never seen any credible statistics to show whether it does or does not affect the filing of a lawsuit. My sense and experience tells me, "if they are going to sue, they are going to sue".

 

Debt collector attorneys are time vampires, unless the consumer refuses to engage them in anyway likely resulting in a default judgment, then they become money vampires. It is probably best to avoid them if possible. A collection agency without an attorney available to sue consumers is like a vampire without teeth.

 

I would never make any payment or schedule payments without the terms clearly spelled out in writing by a party authorized to bind the entity being paid. Of course I would want be careful and never pay the wrong party. There are lots of scammers out there that need to be prosecuted.

 

Chatting on the phone with a debt collector is usually not a productive activity and can often result in harm to the consumer. Their definition of "let us work with you" is the equivalent of, "please stand in front of this speeding bus". Not recommended IMO.

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