Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Can a business send a bill to collections even if you've been paying on it every month?

Asked by Dutchess_III (28259 points ) November 26th, 2011

I’m so mad I can’t see straight. We had three bills at the hospital that I’ve been paying on every month. I paid one of them off completely about six months ago. I have $40 left on one more, and $380 on another.
I get statements from them every month which I pretty much ignore because I know what I owe.
Well, today I got a suspicious looking letter from “someone,” and it turned out to be a collection notice from a collection company for the $380 I owe on the one bill!!!! I went through the roof! Then I opened up one of the statements from the hospital. IT was a nasty letter dated Oct 31st, saying that I’d been ignoring repeated attempts to contact me! That statement said I owed $400. Why did the collection statement say I owed $380 rather than $400? Because I had made a $20 payment at the beginning of November before I ever even got that notice!
I have made payments every single month. Can they still send it to collections? And when I made the payment in November, in person, at the billing department at the hospital, why didn’t the gal who processed the payment tell me that it was getting ready to go to collections???? And why didn’t someone call me???
I’m so mad.

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9 Answers

Judi's avatar

A debtor can assign your debt to anyone they want to. It sucks. It is also stupid of them, because they have to give 30–50% to the collection agency now.
It’s bad business, but it IS legal. You will probably be able to negotiate the same payment arrangements with the collection agency and try to get them to do it on the condition they don’t report it to credit reporting bureaus. Ask them to put it in writing. You may end up with an extra payment or 2 for interest.

jrpowell's avatar

I would suggest calming down. Relax until Monday and give them a call. Sometimes people forget to hit a button and that can be fixed.

JLeslie's avatar

I had something similar happen once from a doctor’s office, it is the only time I have ever formally made a complaint to the better business bureau, and I sent a copy to my insurance company and the medical something or other in my state. Fuck them! I was so angry. I even sent them a copy of my credit report, showing my crazy high score and that I pay everything I owe, and treating me like a deadbeat was disgusting. By the way, when I looked them up on BBB they had one other complaint, and it was about billing.

I don’t know if they can send it to collections, meaning what the specific law might be. Maybe that varies by state anyway.

I would call on Monday and see if they can have it taken out of collections. I am betting they can’t or won’t, but I hope I am wrong. Ask if it is reported to the credit bureau.

Maybe you can negotiate a lower price with colections if you pay at once?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanks you guys.

linguaphile's avatar

The same thing happened to me back in 1998 with a $850 bill and yeah, they can do that even though it’s bad practice. I’ve learned that it no longer is enough to have regular payments. It might have been that the hospital’s billing dept. got orders to collect on everything possible and turned the workers into monsters.

Most of the time, if you call the hospital, they’ll work with you to fix this. However, from my experience, once you get that straightened out, either with the hospital or collection agency, get a letter, get everything in writing and when it’s paid off, get a letter confirming it’s paid off. Ask for confirmation emails and save them. When I paid my $850 off, they refused to report it to Experian as paid for 2 years so having the letter in my possession really helped.

plethora's avatar

@Judi is right. It is legal and it is stupid, on the part of the hospital. But you must remember you are dealing with a hospital, many of whom are not known for their business acumen, ie, they dont know which end is up. When dealing with such an organization, you should keep the lines of communication open, not just with the girl who took your check last week, but with everyone above her too. Could have been that the CFO just hired a temp and told him/her to turn all outstanding balances $400 and over to a collection agency.

Dont blame you for being angry. I would be too.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, unless you have a written agreement with them for a specific payment plan.

blueiiznh's avatar

sadly yes. as @YARNLADY unless you have an agreement that states something different.
When speaking to any organization about these kinds of things, take copious notes and name and times. Use these notes to your advantage to fight your way to not letting organizations bully you. Make certain that you contact the collections organization and establish something as soon as possible. They usually take a few months before they report to the credit bureaus. If you get something established you can stop it from getting to the credit bureaus at this point.

perspicacious's avatar

Yes they can. If you do not have a written payment plan agreement with a creditor, the balance is due based on the first invoice’s terms.

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