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02-21-2013 07:06 AM
I pulled my credit report/scores last week and discovered where I now had 1 derogatory account (medical bill) on my Equifax credit report for a medical service performed in June of 2011. Having never had a single late payment or collection account, I was in shock when I noticed this. Immediately I called the hospital where the medical care was provided. After a lengthy conversation, the person at the hospital confirmed that I had paid my facility bill in full but suggested that it more than likely was the doctor's bill for my ER visit. Apparently the ER physicians use a third-party billing company for their billing statements. The representative then gave me the phone number for the third-party biller as well as the collection agency that they used.
Being completely dumbfounded as to why I had never received a bill from the third-party biller or the collection agency (not to mention the first phone call), I asked the person at the hospital to confirm the address they had for me on file. She confirmed the correct address but also noted that I had called in and changed it shortly after the service was performed. This is where things get a little sticky. Shortly after my ER visit, I moved from the address I provided during registration. However, before moving I made sure to have my mail forwarded to my new address (which I still have documented proof of from the USPS).
My first phone call to the collection agency was not pleasant to say the least. I asked the person I spoke with to verify if they had the information correct and she gave me some basic information about the account, including my old address. I then proceeded to plead my case with the woman, telling her that I had not paid the bill simply because I had never received ANY billing statements from the third-party billing company. Additionally, I asked if I were to send payment in full (because they do not take payments over the phone) if she would be willing to remove this derogatory account from my credit report for which I received a resounding "ABSOLUTELY NOT." From that point on I simply asked the person to provide me with the contact information and original account number for the third-party biller.
Next, I contacted the third-party biller. The woman I spoke with pulled up the account and confirmed they still had my old address. Again, I pleaded my case with the woman telling her how I had forwarded my mail but I had not received any statements from them or the collection agency. Her reply was that it was my responsibility to call in and change the address with them directly whenever I moved, to which I rebutted that it would be impossible to do unless I had received a statement with their phone number on. After a little back and forth I pleaded with this person as well, telling her how it was simply not in my nature to casually let things like this happen and how it was ultimately out of my control. Additionally, I asked the woman if she could possibly pull the account out of collections and retract the derogatory account from my credit report if I paid the balance in full. She responded that they were not able to remove the mark from my credit report, that the collection agency would have to do that. Then, she said she had to check on something with her superior and that she'd have to call me back. I thanked her for her time and hung up. Well that conversation was last Friday and I have yet to hear back from them.
Now, from all of the reading I've been doing (and it's been A LOT), it seems that the both the collection agency AND the third-party biller should be able to remove this information from my credit report. But, I'm not even sure that the third-party biller has completely turned over the account to collections. Also, I have read about PFD and GW letters, but given my limited knowledge on my rights and what I'm actually capable of doing, I certainly don't want to piss off the collection agency and make things worse for myself.
With all of that said, I'm ultimately trying to figure out what my best course of action should be. Ideally, I'd like to pay the debt AND have the derogatory account removed from my credit report. I have been scouring the internet looking for information so I can better arm myself since it seems as if it's very common for people to be raked over the coals in these situations. If anyone has any helpful advice as to what I could possibly do, then I would greatly appreciate it.
02-21-2013 06:14 PM
There are 2 ways to go about this.
Get their address and send them a PFD letter. If a 'no go" then find a supervisor or someone up the ladder to plead your case to. Front line CSRs have no knowledge or power to do much of anything.
Your second option is to go the HIPPA method. You will have to google that because we do not discuss it in open forum. I've never used this method but many have with good success.
02-21-2013 08:25 PM
I recently had the same issue with a medical expense. I offered over and over to pay the bill as long as they would remove the bad credit line from my credit report. After numerous contacts with the collection agency and their refusal to remove the bad credit line from my credit report, I finally took it to the Better Business Bureau. The CSR at the collection agency told me that It was illegal for them to remove the bad credit line from my credit report. we know from this forum that it isn't Illegal for them to remove it. I knew that she was lying to me in order to collect the debt. That was my complaint to the BBB.
Three days after filing my grievance with the Better Business Bureau this collection agency sent me a fax letter stating that they were not in the wrong but in my case they were going to remove the credit line from my credit report upon payment of the account. Could not be more pleased.