Dealing with Debt

Medical Bills and Debt Collection Rules

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Going to a doctor or emergency room for needed treatment is gradually becoming more expensive. Many individuals and families are finding that even after insurance coverage pays for many of the costs, high medical bills are still sent to the home. It is not always easy to manage payments on the bills and delinquent accounts often end up going to collection agencies within five to six months of the first missed payment.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

Medical bills fall under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, and must adhere to the same collection rules that regulate other agencies. The collectors are allowed to send mail and make phone calls reminding consumers of the bill and asking for them to pay the expense.

According to the guidelines in the FDCPA, collectors are not allowed to harass consumers, give inaccurate information about the consumer, make false claims of any kind, saying that consumers will be arrested or use any unfair practices. Any action that is not fair to the consumer or is viewed as threatening is not allowed.

Any medical bill collector who is told in writing not to call the consumer is no longer allowed to make calls. If the consumer tells the collection agency over the phone or in writing not to call their work number, the agency must only call the home phone after 8:00 am and before 9:00 pm.

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The FDCPA has very strict regulations on what is allowed and what is not. Consumers who have a medical bill that goes into delinquency still have rights to privacy and fair practices. Collection agencies are not allowed to harass consumers or anyone who is related to them. Read up on the FDCPA and know your rights!

Action for Harassment or Other Inappropriate Actions:

Any time a collector for a medical bill breaks the strict laws set forth in the FDCPA, consumers have the right to sue the company. Consumers who have suffered losses, such as unfair wage garnishment, will be reimbursed for the expense. If the case is won and no losses are noted, the collector is still fined $1,000. If several consumers decide to file a civil lawsuit against the company, it is possible to obtain as much as $500,000 if the case is won.

Medical bills are able to go into the collections process. Fortunately, the collectors must abide by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and are not allowed to harass or treat consumers in any way that is unfair.

If you have medical bill debt or any kind of unsecured debt, give Advantage CCS a call today for a free credit counseling session. During the credit counseling session, a counselor will work with you to get a clear understanding of your total financial situation. This is important because it helps the credit counselor determine different options or steps you may take to better manage your money and get your credit under control.

Author: Lauralynn Mangis
Lauralynn is the Online Marketing Specialist for Advantage CCS. She is married and has two young daughters. She enjoys writing, reading, hiking, cooking, video games, sewing, and gardening. Lauralynn has a degree in Multimedia Technologies from Pittsburgh Technical College.