Are you resposible for a medical bill over 8 years old?

by Inna
(Brooklyn, NY)

I received a called from a collector regarding an 8 year-old medical bill, which I wasn't aware about to begin with, since my insurence should have covered it at the time. The collector became increasingly frustrated when I told him that I would like to check the correctness of the bill with Fire Department( which is the ordiginal owner of the bill).
They are sort of threatening me that this will go on my credit report, which is surprising to me since this did not effect my credit report in 8 years(date of bill is 11/30/2003).
Can I refuse to pay and can they truely put this on my credit report?

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Feb 07, 2014
incorrect billing and payment causes collection action
by: Anonymous

i went to a clinic and owed $37 that my insurance didn't cover, my husband went to the same clinic and he was asked to pay the charges along with his own office visit. He did, came home and yelled at me over it. We thought that was it, the bill was paid. About six months or so later, I received a collection letter regarding this bill. We went to the clinic and disputed the collection action. They said they had several bookeepers and would work on it. it is still on my credit history, and still in collections. i disputed this with the credit agencies, but it is still on there. i think what happened to the payment, was that they put it toward my husbands account and did not credit my account. what can i do about this...take them to BBB, state licensing??? also, it is more that three years old.

Reply from

It really wouldn't hurt for you to talk with a consumer law attorney to see if you have a case for credit damage. The first consultation should be free. (Choose someone with experience in the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Visit the website of the National Association of Consumer Advocates if you need help locating one.)

The other alternative would be to file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

May 05, 2012
Are you resposible for a medical bill over 8 years old?


The age of the debt does not determine whether or not you are responsible for it. What it does affect however is whether or not you can be sued for an unpaid debt because there is a Statute of Limitations (SOL) associated with past due debt and in N.Y.S. the SOL on most types of debt is 6 years. Once the SOL on a particular debt has expired, which it sounds like it has in the case of your debt to the Fire Department since you say it's 8 years old, then the SOL is a defense to the lawsuit if they try to sue you to collect.

It's important for you to know however, that if you admit that the debt is yours or offer to pay something on the debt, you will start the SOL on the debt running all over again, which means that you will open yourself up once again to a possible lawsuit.

Some debt collectors are in the business of trying to collect on very old debts -- debts on which the SOL has expired. One of their strategies is to get a consumer to do or say something that will restart the SOL. It sounds to me that this is what the collector is trying to do with the Fire Department debt, so be careful! Rather than engaging in any sort of conversation with the collector, write the collector a cease contact letter stating that you do not want to be contacted about the debt again. This is your right under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which says that once the collector receives you letter it cannot contact you again. Make a copy of the letter for your files and send the original via certified mail with a return receipt requested so that you have proof the letter was received. If the collector continues trying to collect from you after it's gotten your letter, the collector has broken the law and you may want to schedule free consultation with a consumer law attorney.

You should also know that a past due debt can only be reported to the credit bureaus for 7 years and 6 months after the date that it first became past due. Therefore, if your debt has been past due for 8 years, it cannot be reported, regardless of what the collector may be telling you. In fact, when a collector threatens you with something that it cannot legally do -- like report your 8 year-old debt to the credit bureaus -- it has violated the FDCPA and once again, that is good reason to contact a consumer law attorney.

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