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Frequently Asked Questions

Working With A Debt Collector

What is a debt collector?

When banks, health organizations and other businesses have trouble collecting payment from consumers, they hire a debt collection agency to collect the debt. Debt collectors must practice within the limits of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to get you to pay a debt. Unpaid debt collections might appear on your credit report, affect your credit score, and keep you from getting other credit cards, loans, jobs, and apartments.

Can I make monthly payments?

Although debt collectors are not under any particular obligation to enter into a payment plan with a consumer, you should contact these debt collectors and explain your situation to them. The debt collector may be willing to enter into a payment arrangement or may be able to provide other possible solutions.

Can I pay off my balance with a credit card?

Yes, visit our online payment center to make a payment now.

Can debt collectors add fees to my debt?

Debt collectors can add fees to your debt, but the fees must be reasonable and allowed by your state's law or your original credit card, patient services or loan agreement.

Can debt collectors contact me about a debt that's not on my credit report?

If a debt's no longer listed on your credit report, a debt collector may still contact you about the debt. This is legal, except in specific situations.

Does debt affect my credit score?

Your level of debt is 30% of your credit score. Having too much debt can bring down your credit score.

What if I refuse to pay a debt owed?

Itís difficult to say for sure, because each collection agency may be authorized by its client or law to pursue different actions. Some debt collectors may take further actions such as reporting the debt to a consumer reporting agency, filing a lawsuit and garnishing wages. Whether the debt collector will take such actions will depend on many factors such as the wishes of the creditor, applicable law and the amount of money you owe.

Can a debt collector sue me for an unpaid debt?

A debt collector can indeed sue you for an unpaid debt, there are some restrictions but the owing of a debt never goes away.

What is a charge-off debt?

A ícharge-offí is a debt the creditors has determined to be uncollectable and is therefore written off or no longer open and active. Itís also known as íbad debt.í It is important to keep in mind that when the creditor charges off a debt, it does not mean the debt is no longer owed by the consumer. Generally, creditors charge off a debt shortly before or right after sending it to a debt collector or a lawyer in some cases. You can try to negotiate a payment plan, and may be able to arrange to pay less than the full amount owed (such as the principal amount, and not the interest or accrued late fees). Although the attorney is not required to accept a payment plan or a principal-only payment, he or she may be willing to work with you to pay at least a portion of the debt.

How can I find out if a debt collector is a real company?

You can go to the website of the Secretary of State's office of the state in which the debt collector is located to see if the collector is registered as a business in that state.

Can I pay off debt with money loans?

Someone can pay off an existing debt by obtaining a new loan to pay off the debt. However, one should be careful to review the terms of the new loan to ensure the interest rate of the new loan makes it a practical option for paying off the existing obligation. If the terms of the new loan are less favorable than the terms of the existing obligation, you may want to try to work with the existing creditor to make payment arrangements rather than obtaining a new loan with less favorable terms.

I have medical bills in collection. What happens if I don't pay them?

The health care provider or collection agency may report information about your account to a national consumer reporting agency. Information about late payments, missed payments or other defaults on your account may be reflected in your consumer report. Negative information can impact an individual's ability to obtain credit. Additionally, the health care provider collector may seek legal action to recover the charges; however, this will depend on the practices of the health care provider and collector. Most states also allow a creditor or a collection agency to garnish a consumer's wages if the creditor or debt collector obtains a judgment. For more information on garnishment, read Wage Garnishment.

How do you know so much about my healthcare situation?

A healthcare entity can provide to a debt collector a personís name, date of birth, and social security number. This is considered part of the minimum necessary information a healthcare provider can provide to a debt collector for payment purposes.

How long will a debt collection remain on my credit report?

A debt collection will be included on your credit report for up to seven and a half years.

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This communication is from a debt collector. This is an attempt to collect a debt. Any information will be used for that purpose.