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New Member
sktnyc
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎08-30-2013
0

Wrongful debt collection from dentist office

Hi,

 

I got my wisdom teeth removed last year, Jun 2012. I was asked to pay $280 at that time, saying I will get the money back if my insurance covers everything. I was checking my online insurance account regularly, as I was sure the insurance will cover everything (it covered everything for my colleague, for the same procedure, and we have the same insurance)

Finally, the dentist office got around to submitting the claim to my dental insurance company in Feb 2013 (8 months later). Insurance company paid a portion and asked the dentist office to follow up with my medical insurance for procedure (procedure code Dxxx, whatever that is). And re-submit the claim to them (i.e, my dental insurance) if necessary. Couple of months later, I called my medical and dental insurance to check if they received a claim from the dentist office. Nothing. I assumed they will take another 8 months to submit the second claim. And may be I will get my $280 back in a year.

Fast forward to last week, I got a call from a collection agency, saying I didn't pay the bills from the dentist office. What? I went to the dental office yesterday (it's 5 mins from my place). The lady says it was my responsibility to submit the claim to my medical insurance, that they are a dental office so they don't deal with medical insurance. This sounds like BS to me. She wants me to submit a claim to my medical insurance? Is it common for patients to submit claims to their insurance? Even if it was my responsibility, they never followed up with me, did not send me a bill. They directly went to collections. The lady said she will look into my case and call me in a day. Haven't heard back yet. Any suggestion on what should I do now? I told her I want my $280 back and I want the collection agency to stop calling me, and if the debt ends up in my credit report, I will be filing a lawsuit.

Thanks.

Moderator Emeritus
llecs
Posts: 32,881
Registered: ‎08-04-2007
0

Re: Wrongful debt collection from dentist office

Welcome to the forums! Sorry it's for this. :smileysad:

 

If I had that, this is what I would do....

 

I would start with a debt validation letter to the CA and largely ignore them from here on out (unless they report). Next, I would write (not call) the doctor and ask them to explain any charges. If what they mail back doesn't jive with what you have and you still disagree, then respond back with proof you paid it (e.g. cancelled check, CC statement, their receipt, etc). If you still feel they owe you money then sue them for that money and duke it out in court.

Mega Contributor
RobertEG
Posts: 17,729
Registered: ‎03-19-2007
0

Re: Wrongful debt collection from dentist office

It certainly seems as if the dentist is jumping the gun by referring to collection a debt that they would reasonably expect to ultimately be handled by insurance, but they chose to do so.  Thus, until the issue is resolved, if they  hired a debt collector, that collector can conduct their business.  They can verify the asserted debt based on having obtained confirmation from the OC that it is legitimate. 

 

Since they made intital communication with you, you can immediately send them a DV request, which will gain a temporarty cease collection bar against them, which includes their reporting of their collection until such time as they have provided debt verification.  However, they could immediately send verification, and report, so any cease collection/reporting bar could easily be overcome.  The debt collector is not required to document the validity of the debt or prove its legitimacy, they are required only to obtain reasonable documentation that it is considered accurate.

 

Legal basis for challenging their collection authority or their ability to report once they have verified is, inmy opinion, very questionable. 

One alternative would be to pay the debt collector the asserted debt with their agreement not to report their collection, and their assurance, with concurrence of the dental office, that if and when any payment is remitted by the insuror, that amount will be forwarded to you.  Then you can go about clearing up the issue with the insuror.

 

 

New Member
sktnyc
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎08-30-2013
0

Re: Wrongful debt collection from dentist office

Thanks for the replies. 

 

Is there anything I can do to get back at the dentist office? I know it might sound petty, but they are the one who really screwed things up. Taking 8 months to submit the claim, sending it to collections with out sending me a bill. Now I have to waste my time, effort, and money to clean up their mess? Is it reasonable for me to ask the dentist office for proof that they sent me the bill? Are doctors office required to maintain such records, and can they share that info with the patient?

 

And a question regarding the collection agency. When I told the lady I am not going to pay the bill, she hung up before I can explain why. This was about 10 days ago and I was hoping I will get a letter by mail so I can follow up with the collections agency. No mail so far. Should I wait or call the collections agency?

Mega Contributor
RobertEG
Posts: 17,729
Registered: ‎03-19-2007
0

Re: Wrongful debt collection from dentist office

Is there anything I can do to get back at the dentist office? I know it might sound petty, but they are the one who really screwed things up. Taking 8 months to submit the claim, sending it to collections with out sending me a bill. Now I have to waste my time, effort, and money to clean up their mess? Is it reasonable for me to ask the dentist office for proof that they sent me the bill? Are doctors office required to maintain such records, and can they share that info with the patient?

If you sue them, the burden will be on you to establish that they have violated some requrement of law.  When you received their services, what type of billing agreement was signed/agreed to?  If agreement was that payment was due in full upon rendering services, that would most likely constitute their billing, and they might not have been required to have sent an additional bill.  The devil would be in the details of your agreement when you walked out the door.

As for sending to collection without having first given notice to the consumer, there is no such requirement under either the FCRA or FDCPA.  All that is required is that the account must have been delinquent at the time of their referral.

 

And a question regarding the collection agency. When I told the lady I am not going to pay the bill, she hung up before I can explain why. This was about 10 days ago and I was hoping I will get a letter by mail so I can follow up with the collections agency. No mail so far. Should I wait or call the collections agency?

You conversation with them constiitued an "initial communication with the consumer" regarding the debt.  They are required under FDCPA 809(a) to send a formal collection (dunning) notice to the consumer within 5 days after any initial communication.  How you choose to handle violation of section 809(a) is optional.  You could file a formal complaint with the FTC/CFPB, or even initiate your own legal action.  In most cases, the outcome is simply a slap on the wrist, as awarding of damages requires a showing of willful noncompliance on their part, as opposed to just error.  I doubt they will admit to willful noncompliance.  I would thus just send a complaint to the FTC/CFPB, whcih they will have to answer.  They rarely, if ever, bring legal action based on indiviidual consumer complaints, so it will most likely result in a slap on the wrist.

New Member
sktnyc
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎08-30-2013
0

Re: Wrongful debt collection from dentist office


I waited for two weeks, didn't receive any letter from the collection agency. I checked with my ex-roommate (I recently moved), no mail at my old address either. When I talked to the cs rep the first time, I mentioned about the change of address and gave her my new address.

When I called after two weeks, the same lady answered the phone. She said the letter was sent to my old address, not my new address. (I don't know why she decided to send it to my old address) I told her I checked with my roommate, there was no letter delivered to my old address. She says the letter came back as undeliverable as no one there lives by that name. I am not sure if that was true, I don't believe USPS will check for the name, don't they usually just drop it in the mail box? Anyways, I asked her if she can send it to my new address. I asked her to confirm the new address they have on file is correct. It was. Now its been almost two weeks, no letter at my new address either. What do I do now?

If I should file a complaint with FTC/CFPB, can you please point me to the website where I can submit the complaint. I did a google search, I couldn't find any relevant results.

Thanks.

Moderator
guiness56
Posts: 22,408
Registered: ‎01-17-2008
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Re: Wrongful debt collection from dentist office

Valued Contributor
p-
Posts: 2,633
Registered: ‎06-05-2008
0

Re: Wrongful debt collection from dentist office


guiness56 wrote:

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/

 

You can no longer file a complaint directly with the FTC.


But you can file one with the AMA.  http://www.ama-assn.org

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Moderator
guiness56
Posts: 22,408
Registered: ‎01-17-2008
0

Re: Wrongful debt collection from dentist office


p- wrote:

guiness56 wrote:

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/

 

You can no longer file a complaint directly with the FTC.


But you can file one with the AMA.  http://www.ama-assn.org


Wouldn't it be the ADA?

Valued Member
usofascott
Posts: 42
Registered: ‎06-05-2013
0

Re: Wrongful debt collection from dentist office

Just to clarify the FDCPA wich regulates third party debt collection is a strict liability statute.  There is no such thing as willful nocompliance in regads to the FDCPA. Even a technical violation is a violation.


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