Collectors call about the bill I didn't know

by Egle
(New London, CT)

Hi - Today I got the call about the ambulance bill I didn't know I had. I just came to USA at that time, I had travelers insurance and I got to emergency room at the beginning of July, 2006. They said hospital sent me the bills but all mail was returned. I stayed at that place till October, 2006 but I didn't receive any bill. I got emergency room bill to my next address because my insurance company didn't pay it and it took me a while to make them pay but I never heard about ambulance bill. Collector agent told me they already post the debt on my credit report. What should I do?

Comments for Collectors call about the bill I didn't know

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Nov 25, 2009
Debt collector and ambulance bill
by: Gerri

I can imagine this was a very unwelcome surprise.

As we recommend in our ebook, Debt Collection Answers, the very first thing you want to do when talking with a debt collector for the first time is to ask them to send you something in writing. This is your right under federal law and gives you the opportunity to research the debt.

Once you receive the written notice of the debt, you have the right to dispute it - we recommend you do so in writing - if you believe the amount is incorrect, you don't owe it, etc. This will give you additional time to research your options as well.

Our book will be helpful to you, and I recommend you at least read the first chapter online (it's free) so that you understand how the collection process works.

Assuming you do owe the bill, you'll have to focus on:

a. Negotiating a payment arrangement you can afford. If the bill has been inflated by fees or interest, I encourage you to try to negotiate teh balance down, especially since you never received a bill.

b. Trying to negotiate to have it removed from your credit report if you pay it. Again, since you never received the bill this is not an unreasonable request to make.

Every negotiation of this type is different so I can't tell you exactly what to say, but we do offer tips for negotiating in our ebook. The most important thing is to know what you can afford, stick to your plan, and keep excellent records of every telephone conversation with the collection agency. You can download our free debt collection worksheet for that purpose.

If you believe the debt collector may be doing something it's not supposed to in its attempts to collect, or if you are just not sure what to do, talk with a consumer law attorney. Find out how to get free legal advice from an attorney here.

Please let us know how this turns out.

Nov 28, 2009
Thank you
by: Egle

Thank you for comment. I see I did right thing: I asked collector to send me written notice and I talked about the payments - she agreed I can make a monthly payments as much as I can afford.

She said once I will pay in full they will put down that it was paid in full on my credit history but this doesn't satisfy me.

I tried to contact ambulance ny email and if I wont receive an answer till next week I will call them as well.

Thank You for your help.

Dec 01, 2009
Another letter from collectors
by: Egle

Yesterday I received another mail "Credit Report Information Request". It says that "more than 30 days ago we sent you a letter on behalf of the above mentioned client. Since you did not respond to the letter, we are assuming the debt is valid."
The first time I was contacted was last Tuesday, 24th, not 30 or more days ago. Do collectors try to play me?

Dec 02, 2009
Misleading letter from debt collector
by: Gerri

Egle,

The letter the collection agency sent to you could potentially be in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Debt collectors are not allowed to mischaracterize the status of the debt, and the way you are describing it, they may have broken the law.

However I am not an attorney so I would recommend you talk with a consumer law attorney. Find out how to get FREE or low cost legal advice about debt collection here.

If the debt collector is breaking the law, you may be entitled to damages and attorney fees. At a minimum it could put you in a good position to negotiate a resolution that works for you.

I agree you should still push to have it removed from your credit reports. The fact that it will be listed as paid in full does not help your credit scores.

Again, keep us posted.

Dec 02, 2009
Follow up
by: Egle

Thank You.

I contacted ambulance and they told me they never gave my name to collectors - they gave my insurance company. They were sent the mails and never responded. When I tried to talk about that with collection company they said since my name is on the bill I am the one who responsible and I have to deal with insurance company.

I called insurance company. My insurance was from SITE Assistance International but they were taken over by Cigna on August 4, 2006. The agent I talked to said they wont pay any bill before august 4, 2006 (my bill is July 26,2006).

I talked about the letter which said they noticed me 30 days ago with insurance company agent and she agreed that that mail isn't right since I don't live that address they sent notice anymore. She gave me time to try to call insurance company and then to contact her again.

What I should do next? I was thinking tommorow call to Cigna again and try to talk to supervisor or manager (their office is in Scotland so it's hard to reach them any time).

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