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Merchants & Professional: You Don't Have To Pay Them

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Merchants & Professional: You Don't Have To Pay Them

Background:

My DH and I were going to purchase a house and we knew we had less than stellar credit but figured it would let us know where we stand. I was a little bitter to know that my score was the lower score. He was at a 588 and I am a paltry 521. We both have numerous collections, however, when I was scanning my CR I noticed that one of my reports had "*BX1 Joint" on there. I couldn't figure out what that meant until I looked up the codes. Anything with a B followed by an X = Experian, B followed with a Q = Equifax, B followed by a U = Transunion. Typically you will see either [Ind]  (Individual) or Joint next to that. I called Merchants & Professional to see what the joint account is. And that is where it got interesting.

 

What I learned on the call:

-I called them initially because I was just as curious as to how I have a joint medical bill with my husband that I can't remember happening in 2017. Our DS was born in 2017, but he was put on my insurance immediately. I told them that since the $571 bill was unusually high for me, and if they could see that it was run through my insurance. Usually, my medical bills are $25 - $200. She said that there was no insurance present.  The account was not with ARC!  They advised me that the bill was from 2013 and it wouldn't matter now if they did or didn't send it to my insurance first. They will not go that far. That pissed me off. I told them I had insurance then and that they should have billed insurance first and not jacked up the total. I felt that was wrong and that I was going to call the "client" that was reporting this and that they have the wrong person on an account that isn't mine. Then they told me the kicker. It wasn't my bill. It was my husbands. So, that isn't my bill, it shouldn't be on my CR. What gives?

        1. Texas is a community property state. Whatever bills that my husband racks up, I am on the hook for it and vise versa. Makes sense. The problem was this bill was for 2013. We didn't get married until 2017 and we weren't even dating until 2014. Sooooooo, DISPUTE FLAGS WAVING ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!

 

-The lady on the phone immediately knows where I'm going next with this. She starts with, "If you are trying to get things removed from your credit report..." I didn't even let her finish. Stopped her right there. She wanted to argue. Told me that when I called in a year ago about the account my husband was having issues with, that the person I talked to was "under the impression" that we were married when services were rendered. I told her, it was fine. I was going to dispute it and send in a copy of my marriage license. They will take it off my account.

 

-She didn't like that, so she angrily got back at me, "Well you have 8 other accounts with us that are still in collections." I pleasantly told her, that is okay I'm on a payment plan with Austin Regional Clinic, and I know that I'm paying every month with them, so you shouldn't have the accounts anymore. She checked and didn't see my payment arrangement or my last payment. Then proceeded to tell me that whatever I do it won't matter because Austin Regional Clinic will not take back an account once it is in collections. She was right, but she was not telling all of the truth either. I told her that is okay, thank you for your time and I was going to call ARC anyway.

 

What ARC let me in on:

- My payment arrangement had been made, but it wasn't reported to MP. So that was a fix they had to make on their end.

- I CAN STILL make payments directly to ARC. The way that their system works with MP is that you can make a payment arrangement with ARC and as long as you make all your payments on time they report to MP EVERY FRIDAY that you made your payment, of the payments that are made and that you are on a payment plan. So MP has to report the on-time payments.  Once you pay off your full balance, for me that is $1118, MP will delete ALL the records OFF your CR.

 

What I've learned:

1. If you are married and in a community property state, check EVERY medical record you have. If you see B(X, Q, U)1 Joint on your report, call and verify the date that the services were rendered. If it was BEFORE you were married, DISPUTE IT! It isn't yours. They can't make you take it.

2. Don't listen to, "Once it is in collections, they can't take it back, it stays with us, you have to pay us." This is a LIE. Call the Clinic or Hospital that you owe and make a payment arrangement. Do not be afraid to make a ridiculously low payment arrangement. I did work for medical billing collections, for hospitals (Financial Corporation of America) and I had a person making a $5/month payment. Yes, they will try to give you a number like $100/month, but if you can't do it, they will take ANYTHING because FCoA works on an award system and every dollar that you can get from someone counts. Stick to your guns. I didn't have too much of a choice on my payment with ARC as they just split my balance into 12 payments. But $93.20/month for a full deletion of 8 collections accounts on my CR is waaaaay better than having them settled.

 

This was my experience this morning and I just wanted to let someone know that if they do have collections with MP that they really should check their codes and then check the dates! Don't let them get you! I'm going to have a $571 bill deleted from my CR because it isn't mine! I'm sure that is worth a few points bump! And every bump matters! Do not lose your cool with the person on the phone! Even though the lady was getting mad at me, I kept it polite and sweet. I knew I had the upper hand and that sometimes frustrates a person who probably is working on commission to get your money. So remember, they are people too, trying to do their job the way that they are trained, which if you are in the collections department, is very, very aggressive.

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