Medical collections are a particularly difficult field - they demand tact, human dignity, and effective collection tactics all at the same time. We’ve got an entire blog post detailing how medical collections are distinguished from other debts, but in this one, we’ll focus on the top two complaints generated as a result of collection agencies pursuing medical debt. These statistics are taken directly from the raw data that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) receives every year.
Nearly half of all medical collection complaints filed with the CFPB in 2014 regarded continued attempts to collect a debt not owed. This is one of the most common reasons a person will file a complaint with the CFPB, and the medical collections industry is not unique in this. Unfortunately, the CFPB does not publish data on whether a complaint is valid, or whether a violation actually occurred or not. Instead, the only data pertaining to resolution of a complaint that is published is how the collection agency responded, and whether it was a timely response. This is an important caveat for anyone in the debt collection industry.
The second most-recorded complaint was improper disclosure verification of debt. According to §809, “If the consumer notifies the debt collector in writing within the thirty-day period described in subsection (a) that the debt, or any portion thereof, is disputed, or that the consumer requests the name and address of the original creditor, the debt collector shall cease collection of the debt, or any disputed portion thereof, until the debt collector obtains verification of the debt or any copy of a judgment, or the name and address of the original creditor, and a copy of such verification or judgment, or name and address of the original creditor, is mailed to the consumer by the debt collector.”
Other complaints include false statements or representation, improper contact or information sharing, and taking or threatening an illegal action. Although the statistics can be somewhat misleading (anyone can submit a complaint for anything), chances are there is some truth in the trend. In either case, the complaint history should be something you consider when choosing a medical collections agency for your private practice.