Credit Reporting

Is there a requirement that a patient be notified before an account is sent to collections or reported to the credit bureaus?

Comments for Credit Reporting

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Jul 20, 2010
Past due debt and credit reports
by: Mary

Thanks for submitting your debt collection question on our Q&A page.

The federal Fair Debt Collection Act does not require that a creditor notify you before it turns over a past due debt that it believes you owe to a debt collector. However, most creditors will send a series of letters or notices to a consumer who has fallen behind on a debt giving that consumer an opportunity to resolve his or her debt problem -- maybe by working out a payment plan with the creditor or settling the debt, for example -- and warning the consumer that he or she risks having the debt sent to collections if the consumer do anything about the debt.

If you are being contacted by debt collectors, I urge you to get educated about your legal rights so that you understand your options for responding to collectors, know when a debt collector has crossed the line and your options for dealing with that collector. A great way to become informed is by purchasing a copy of Debt Collection Answers, the e-book I co-authored with Gerri Detweiler. It's available as a download at this site. You can read the first chapter of Debt Collection Answers online for free.

As for your second question regarding whether a debt collector or creditor is legally obligated to notify you that it's going to report a past due account to one of more of the three national credit reporting agencies, the answer is that the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act does not require such notification. Generally, consumers understand that if they fall behind on one of their financial obligations, it's likely that that fact will show up in one or more of their credit files. For a short summary of your federal credit reporting rights, go to For more detailed information about credit reporting and about how to rebuild your credit after money troubles, I recommend The Credit Repair Handbook by John Ventura (Kaplan Publishing).

Please share what happens with your situation in the comments section for this question. We are very interested in hearing how this turns out for you, and your experience can help others who are struggling with debt collectors.

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