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Old 03-18-08, 03:59 AM   #1
Zinn-X
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Interesting problem; I'm being illegally harassed by a debt collector

This whole thing was a mess that could take several paragraphs to fully describe, let me boil it down into cliffs:

CLIFFS
  • I was assaulted at a party in September of 2006, my nose was broken and I was unconscious and taken to the hospital
  • Since I was a victim of a crime, the state of California has a program where they pay ALL your crime-related medical costs, (funded fully by fines levied on criminals)
  • I got bills, submitted them to the state, bills were paid
  • August 07 comes around, and I find out that the hospital made a mistake and was sending a couple of bills to a completely bogus address, now I have a collection agency on me for $1000 dollars
  • I submit the new bill to the state, the state pays the hospital. By accepting payment, under state law the hospital and its debt collectors acknowledge the payment as payment in full and can not bill for anything else related to the incident. Basically, I'm off the hook
  • I'm still getting letters from collection agency. Now they're threatening to sue me.

The collection agency is illegally billing me for money that was already paid. It's between them and the hospital to terminate the debt at this point, I'm completely off the hook.

I'm thinking of lawyering up, but I'd rather not spend the money if I can't actually sue them and make my money back. So, would I have a case here? I'm not much of a fan of frivolous lawsuits, but now they're threatening to sue me, I think I need to kick the hospital and/or its debt collectors in the balls. If anyone has any legalese advice, I'd appreciate it.

BTW there's a big black mark on my credit report over this whole thing.

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Old 03-18-08, 06:06 AM   #2
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I wouldn't call this a frivolous suit, just a dumb bureaucratic suit which will waste your money.
Counter sue them for your legal costs. You have nothing to worry about as long as you know you
can prove that you aren't at fault.
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Old 03-18-08, 06:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Zinn-X View Post
This whole thing was a mess that could take several paragraphs to fully describe, let me boil it down into cliffs:

CLIFFS
  • I was assaulted at a party in September of 2006, my nose was broken and I was unconscious and taken to the hospital
  • Since I was a victim of a crime, the state of California has a program where they pay ALL your crime-related medical costs, (funded fully by fines levied on criminals)
  • I got bills, submitted them to the state, bills were paid
  • August 07 comes around, and I find out that the hospital made a mistake and was sending a couple of bills to a completely bogus address, now I have a collection agency on me for $1000 dollars
  • I submit the new bill to the state, the state pays the hospital. By accepting payment, under state law the hospital and its debt collectors acknowledge the payment as payment in full and can not bill for anything else related to the incident. Basically, I'm off the hook
  • I'm still getting letters from collection agency. Now they're threatening to sue me.

The collection agency is illegally billing me for money that was already paid. It's between them and the hospital to terminate the debt at this point, I'm completely off the hook.

I'm thinking of lawyering up, but I'd rather not spend the money if I can't actually sue them and make my money back. So, would I have a case here? I'm not much of a fan of frivolous lawsuits, but now they're threatening to sue me, I think I need to kick the hospital and/or its debt collectors in the balls. If anyone has any legalese advice, I'd appreciate it.

BTW there's a big black mark on my credit report over this whole thing.
If you own a home and a car screw credit! If you cant buy it cash you dont really need it.
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Old 03-18-08, 06:55 AM   #4
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Call the hospital.

Or call the collection agency. Don't deal with a peon, though. Find out the name/number of a person as high up in the company as you can get. Call them and explain the situation. Explain that the bills have been paid by the state, and that it's illegal for them to be coming after you. Tell them that you want the black mark on your credit rescinded. Inform them that your next step is to contact the District Attorney (since it's a State matter, let your tax dollars do the work).
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Old 03-18-08, 07:04 AM   #5
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Hey, wait- If they are doing something illegal then bust them. Call whatever government regulatory
agency is over them and rat em out.
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Old 03-18-08, 07:12 AM   #6
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You have nothing to worry about as long as you know you
can prove that you aren't at fault.
Apparently he does if it's already screwing up his credit report. I'd get a lawyer.
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Old 03-18-08, 07:25 AM   #7
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I work for a Debt Collection Law Firm here in Colorado. I know this sucks but the best thing to do is get all your ducks in a row. Make sure you have copies of everything and numbers. Call the hospital and get a copy of the bill as "PAID". Contact the bill collector and fax this information over to them. Tell them to cease any phone calls and that any further contact needs to be done in WRITING.
If the bill is paid then they should stop. THEY BETTER STOP!

Also read this link http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws...6500-1300.html
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Old 03-18-08, 07:27 AM   #8
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I would go to the hospital and get records that they had paid of the bills. Send copies of those paid off bills to the collection agency. Request a letter from the collection agency acknowledging the zero balance. Send a copy to the credit agencies (equifax) and have them take the bad marks off of your credit report.

I was a victim of the bank losing records of receipt of my payments. Luckily I had MY end of the copies. They cleared that up pronto with notes on my file saying it was due to their mistake.

Edit: Didn't see snowy's post but yeah...almost same thing there, eh?
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Old 03-18-08, 07:45 AM   #9
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Take the advice above in an attempt to head off litigation. That's always best. However, if these jackasses don't back off and fix your credit rating, get a lawyer and go for the jugular. These *******s are scum of the earth, and you can help teach them a lesson.

First, get all your paperwork in order. ALL OF IT. Make sure you can prove that the exact debt they are seeking to collect has already been paid. Make copies of all correspondence between you and the state crime victims' fund.

Talk to a lawyer. Odds are you can get a free consultation as this is encouraged by pretty much every state bar. If he won't give you a free consultation, don't retain him. Talk to him defending you and countersuing for defamation and a frivolous suit. If your state has a good consumer protection law (and I'd have to believe California has a good one), slandering your credit is almost certainly a violation. (For example, it's a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practice Act.) These statutes almost always provide for attorneys' fees to a prevailing plaintiff. The agency will probably back off and fix your record as soon as they get a **** letter and some documentation from the lawyer. You likely wind up paying only nominal attorney's fees, if anything. If the agency doesn't back off, authorize a lawsuit.

The point of this is that, if you wait for them to sue you and they actually go through with it, you are likely stuck paying a lawyer with less possibility of getting your money back. If you proceed against them based on a good consumer statute, however, you can likely get your attorney's fees plus some measure of exemplary damages. Plus, you'll teach these ***** a lesson, which would be well worth it.
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Old 03-18-08, 08:00 AM   #10
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Just hire a lawyer to write one letter, setting forth the law and why their actions violate the law. That will probably solve your problem.
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Old 03-18-08, 08:11 AM   #11
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I would go over there and punch them in the nose. It won't cost you a thing, as the State of California has this great program to pay for medical expenses for victims of crime.
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Old 03-18-08, 09:26 AM   #12
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I work for a Debt Collection Law Firm
may god have mercy on your soul.
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Old 03-18-08, 09:35 AM   #13
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If you own a home and a car screw credit! If you cant buy it cash you dont really need it.
You like to interrupt threads with posts about how you don't have a TV and a car as well, don't you?
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Old 03-18-08, 11:35 AM   #14
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If you own a home and a car screw credit! If you cant buy it cash you dont really need it.
oh agreed, but it's more a matter of principal than anything.

well i just called the hospital, and they said they hadn't processed the payment yet, hence the delay in updating my collections status. wonderful. but i had their accounting woman promise me that there is nothing for me to worry about and they'll take the collection dogs off me.
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Old 03-18-08, 11:46 AM   #15
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oh agreed, but it's more a matter of principal than anything.

well i just called the hospital, and they said they hadn't processed the payment yet, hence the delay in updating my collections status. wonderful. but i had their accounting woman promise me that there is nothing for me to worry about and they'll take the collection dogs off me.
Hope it works. If not here is one more avenue. The State paid, in effect these guys are trying to defraud the State. Call your local State representitive. The State has a stake in this, if things go nasty use that to your advantage.
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Old 03-18-08, 12:31 PM   #16
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may god have mercy on your soul.
Why?? It may surprise you have alot of people don't PAY their bills! Not saying this is the case in this thread. I offered my suggestions and insight.
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Old 03-18-08, 01:40 PM   #17
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I want my two dollars!
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Old 03-18-08, 04:02 PM   #18
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I think this whole problem could have been avoided if you were a better fighter.
Toughen up!
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Old 03-18-08, 04:12 PM   #19
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may god have mercy on your soul.
Most people that dislike debt collectors are deadbeats that don't pay their bills.
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Old 03-18-08, 04:25 PM   #20
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You like to interrupt threads with posts about how you don't have a TV and a car as well, don't you?
EDIT: Sorry, my orig posting sounded kinda angry, it was a misunderstanding is all apologies to Krispistofferson
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Old 03-18-08, 04:46 PM   #21
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Most people that dislike debt collectors are deadbeats that don't pay their bills.
Well, no, I think a lot of us have had an experience similar to mine, where I sold a car, properly filed paperwork to transfer title, new owner got ticket, City of Tacoma couldn't find the new owner, so sent a collections agent after me as the last registered owner . I had to spend all day in Tacoma at the courthouse to get it straightened out. A few months later the same collection agency tried to pull the same stunt, threatening my credit rating.

I don't think I am a deadbeat who has not paid her bill .

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Old 03-18-08, 04:59 PM   #22
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Most people that dislike debt collectors are deadbeats that don't pay their bills.
I dislike debt collectors, and its not about paying bills.

I have a family member who is repeatedly called by debt collectors because someone with the same surname, totally unrelated by blood has a good number of outstanding unpaid accounts. My family member gets called multiple times after 9PM her time and before 8AM her time which is a violation of the fair debt collections act.

When she called attempting to set records straight, she was told that the collection firm doesn't operate in the US, so the firm can call as many times, at any hour they please, and to pay up or shut up. The firm always used either fake 1-800 numbers, or "unavailable" on Caller ID, and the number was always different from the number they left on the message.

Googling the 1-800 number found that the number was going to an international line offshore.

The messages left on the phone recorder were either automatic messages of "please hold for an operator", or someone saying, "you owe us money, pay up you b****."

Even my relative's neighbors were called with messages similar to "Did you know that Ms. XXXXXXXX has not paid her bills and is a deadbeat?"

I personally was called daily on my cellphone because the previous owner of the number didn't pay bills. Of course, the bill collection place I called back demanded my name, address, place where I worked, SSN, contact info of other people, and other personal info as well as my other phone numbers before they even would *think* of taking my number off their deadbeat list. They even stated that it would be easier if I paid the previous person's bills than having them take the number off the rolls. I finally just gave in, had that cellphone number changed.

If debt collection people could at least dun the right person who was not paying their bills [1], maybe I'd have respect for them. However tactics like calling neighbors *for a debt my relative does NOT even owe* is just plain bad, and even though it does obviously violate the Fair Debt Collections Act, with outsourcing these days, said act is worthless.

[1]: Not just paying accounts, but I am pretty sure that almost all lenders would give someone a forbarance for a bit if something bad financial occured that prevent someone from paying. One rule I have is that if I can't make a payment on time, call and see what can be done. This so far has kept my credit record quite good.

(Edited this post multiple times to ensure I'm as accurate as possible.)

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Old 03-18-08, 10:14 PM   #23
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I work for a Debt Collection Law Firm here in Colorado. I know this sucks but the best thing to do is get all your ducks in a row. Make sure you have copies of everything and numbers. Call the hospital and get a copy of the bill as "PAID". Contact the bill collector and fax this information over to them. Tell them to cease any phone calls and that any further contact needs to be done in WRITING.
If the bill is paid then they should stop. THEY BETTER STOP!

Also read this link http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws...6500-1300.html
+1

Above all, make sure EVERY communication with them is in writing!

Unfortunately, your going to have to do the leg work on this one. And even then, don't expect it to be easy. You're going to have to walk the collector through the explanation of the payments like they are two years old. We had a client that was being harassed despite our repeated letters that the debt claimed was invalid. They even ended up suing the the guy. We didn't get it resolved until I sat down with their attorney and walked them page-by-page through the documentation (physically highlighting the relevant parts) that showed the debt was crap.

If you're within the initial 30 day period, you might try requesting that they validate the debt -- sometimes the collector will confirm with their client at which point the confusion can sometimes be resolved. Unfortunately, the likely result will be the collector simply sending you what's already in their file. In that case, then you're back in the situation above -- explaining it to them like they are two years old.
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Old 03-18-08, 10:15 PM   #24
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mlts22 + East Hill, sorry if you took offense to my comment but if you ever worked in collections you would feel the same way. BTW, I said most people, not all people, there will always be exceptions to a statement like that.

A collector that makes threats of lawsuits, and calls the neighbors like that is a hack.
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Old 03-18-08, 11:04 PM   #25
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mlts22 + East Hill, sorry if you took offense to my comment but if you ever worked in collections you would feel the same way. BTW, I said most people, not all people, there will always be exceptions to a statement like that.

A collector that makes threats of lawsuits, and calls the neighbors like that is a hack.
Agreed that a collector that makes threats and calls the neighbours is a hack. Still, there are too many of us who have known of someone who has been in the same position without justification, or have experienced too zealous collectors personally.

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