Monday, January 14, 2008

Corporate Accountability: Bill Collectors

I find it very interesting that any company can post what they want on your credit report, and then you have to prove it's not true, with no accountability, and little recourse to the company posting wanton incorrect information.

Example: You go to the hospital. What you don't know:

  • Each department does its own billing, so that makes:
    • ER doctor
    • ER
    • Surgeon
    • Anesthesiologist
    • Hospital Surgery Department
    • Hospital Recovery
  • Say one or two of those departments don't get the billing information passed on by admissions. They do have your name, SSN, but get your address wrong, and "forget" that other departments have this information.
  • Since the bill gets mis-sent, and the insurance information is not available for you, and even though they have your phone number nobody bothers to call, the bill gets sent to collections.
  • The other bills are paid by insurance, and you actually never see them.
  • Unpaid amounts sent to collections, and sit there for five years.
  • Collections at some point sells off the bad receivables to another collector.
  • Collector files "in collections" to SSN on that account.
Now, let me ask the following:
  1. Nobody bothered to contact the debtor. Ever.
  2. The addresses on the credit report from all three credit reporting agencies were correct - looking at that would have made it clear that the address was transliterated when transferred between departments.
  3. Debtor contacted original hospital for another matter (where a call was made for a different case, and some insurance information screwup), asks if there is anything else outstanding, and gets told of one of the outstanding amounts. Debtor asks is there is anything else owing, is told no. Debtor arranges payment through the insurance company.
  4. Debtor finds the entries on his credit report. Contacts collector, arranges payment.
Now, the problem is that the last collecting company could not be bothered to pull contact information for the debtor, but could be bothered to file the same bills, at different months, with all three collecting agencies.

What recourse does the debtor have?
  1. Debtor contacted collector, and paid of own volition.
  2. Debtor is on record asking about other debts prior to being placed in collection.
  3. Debtor's SSN and phone number were correct, active, and connected during this time, with current addresses on the credit report.

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