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Zachary
Zachary, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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I have a dispute with a collection agency for $57 (its the

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I have a dispute with a collection agency for $57 (it's the principal here for me). The original company (a medical agency) correctly billed me for $57. I have proof I paid $57 within a month of receiving the bill to that company, and I've never done business with them before or since. Then the collection agency started calling.

Here's the catch. I strongly believe the medical agency actually issued TWO bills for separate services at $57 EACH. But the bills they sent show nothing that proves these are two separate debts, so I had no idea. I tried to turn this in to my Health Spending Account, and the second $57 was rejected as a duplicate because the bill was "not up to IRS standards for proving a second debt" according to the case worker.

I've tried to get the collection agency to give me that proof, but they refuse. All I've ever wanted was a proper pair of bills showing two different debts. So I go back to my original premise - they proved a bill for $57, I proved payment at that time to that creditor. Can I get them to either give this up or else (my preference) produce the proof I've been asking for all along?

Side note - the original medical agency kept promising to send the bills with details and never did. One of their phone operators let is slip that they had an "in house" credit agency which is who's calling now.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zachary replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

Thank you for your question.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, if you send written communication to a debt collector which asserts that you do not owe the debt on which they are trying to collect and show proof that you have already made payment, then the debt collector must contact the original creditor (here the medical provider) and confirm that the amount is owed.

The debt collector does not actually have to share that information with you. Once it confirms that the debt is owed, it may continue with its collection efforts. You may notify the debt collector in writing that you are disputing the debt and that you are providing them notice pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that they may no longer contact you by phone or in writing and that if they want to attempt collection they must file suit on the debt.

This does not prevent the collection from showing up on your credit report. You may dispute the amount due with the credit reporting agencies too by contacting them in writing and showing that you have already paid the debt.

The only way to truly dispute the debt is to file a lawsuit under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and prove they are attempting to collect an uncollectable debt. If you win the case, you are entitled to your actual damages (loss of credit), penalties up to $1,000 and costs and attorney's fees.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Please also kindly consider rating my answer positively so that I am compensated by the website for my work on your question. Rating positively does not cause an additional charge and does not prevent us from further discussing your questions.

Best Regards,
ZDN

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

They have done everything you described including (according to them) contacting the original agency and confirming the debt still existed despite my payment that coincidentally happened to be the same amount at the same time. It deeply disturbs me that I can't legally force them to prove the debt beyond taking their word for it, but I had to try. This was all in principal anyway (I just deposited $27 to get an answer about a $57 debt after all), and thank you for at least telling me where I stand.


 


I'd close this now, but can't find an option to reply AND close. Thanks again.

Expert:  Zachary replied 1 year ago.
There is a way to legally force them to quite collecting, and that is by suing them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and by seeking a Declaratory Judgment that the debt has been paid already.

I hope this has helped. Please remember to rate my answer positively and thank you for your business.

-ZDN

Zachary, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3826
Experience: Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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