Collections, even medical collections, can have a negative impact on your credit score. Even if the collection wasn’t your fault, it still reflects poorly on your credit score and could make it difficult to get financing.
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Below we help you understand the steps necessary to delete the medical collections from your credit report.
Is it Your Debt?
First, you need to determine if the medical debt is yours. Sometimes there is a mix up between the insurance company and the medical provider and a bill gets overlooked. If you didn’t pay the bill because you thought the insurance company would, you may end up with a collection on your credit report.
If this is the case, you need to get to the bottom of the issue. First, get a copy of the initial medical bill. Make sure that it is for services that you received. Next, contact your insurance company to find out what portion, if any, of the bill you must pay. If the insurance company was responsible, work with them to get the bill paid.
If you owe some or all of the bill, figure out a way to pay it. If it’s a large bill, you may have to work with the medical provider to come up with a payment plan. This is acceptable, as long as you eventually pay your portion of the bill in full.
During this process, it’s important to keep track of what happens. Keep a paper trail of all payments made as well as records of all communication. If you can correspond via email it may be best so that you can have a paper trail of all conversations had. If you talk over the phone, make sure you get the name and number of each person you talk to about the bill.
Paying the Bill
If it comes down to you paying the bill, you will have to keep an even larger paper trail. If you pay by check, make a photocopy of the check. If you pay via credit card, keep the statements that show the payment. You will need these when you try to get the collection removed from your credit report.
Before you make any payments, make sure there is an understanding with the provider that the account will be satisfied. This is especially important if you work out a payment plan or the provider agrees to accept a lesser amount. Don’t make any payments until they agree to mark the account satisfied in writing. They must also agree to notify the credit bureaus and/or collection agencies of the payments made.
File a Dispute With the Credit Bureaus
Once you know the account is satisfied or if it always was satisfied but just reported wrong, it’s time to file a dispute.
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You must make this a formal process in order to ensure that everything goes right. First, write to the credit bureau. In your letter, you should include the name of the service provider, the amount of the collection or amount due, and the reason you think it is incorrect.
For example, if you just paid the account in full, give the credit bureau the paper trail of proof that you paid the bill in full. If you are on a payment arrangement, you can provide a copy of the agreement from the medical provider. If you think the collection is invalid, you can provide proof of why you think it’s invalid.
The credit bureau has 30 days to resolve the issue. This includes time to contact the medical provider to see what they have to say. If the medical provider or collection agency doesn’t respond in 30 days, the credit bureau must remove the debt from the credit report. If they do respond, the credit bureau will react accordingly.
Let the Statute of Limitations Take Effect
If you can’t get the collection resolved or satisfied in one of the above methods, you can also wait for the statute of limitations to expire. The statute of limitations is a time limit that the medical provider or collection agency can report the collection on your credit report. After that time, the agency can no longer come after you for the money and the debt must fall off your credit report.
The statute of limitations for medical debt is different for each state. On average, medical debt can stay on a credit report between 3 – 15 years, with 6 years being the most common. After this time, you can request that the debt be removed from your credit report strictly based on the statute of limitations.
It’s important to know, though, if you ‘renew the debt’ in any way, the clock starts all over again. In other words, if you make a payment, talk to the agency about the debt, or try to resolve it any manner, the clock starts again and the debt can stay on your credit report for another 3 – 15 years.
Having medical debt deleted from your credit report is possible, but it does take work. You can’t just tell a credit bureau to remove it. You have to prove that you deserve to have it removed either because it’s not your debt, the statute of limitations apply, or you paid the debt in full.
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