While millions of Americans are the subject of medical debt collection efforts, far too many consumers are aggressively and unfairly targeted. Others are victims of mistaken identity whose credit scores are placed at risk by these harmful acts.
On April 11, 2017, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group released findings on consumer complaints over tactics used in medical debt collection efforts. The data shows a continuing and troubling trend when it comes to growing predatory financial behavior.
The U.S. PIRG study reviewed 17,701 medical debt collection complaints submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Their in-depth review revealed that nearly 63% of consumer grievances involved delinquencies already discharged through bankruptcy or unverified debts never owed in the first place.
The study also found widespread aggressive and inappropriate tactics that took the form of:
- Frequent or repeated calls
- Harassment of friends and family
- Threats of legal action
- Use of abusive language
Twenty percent of all the complaints involve a mere ten debt collection companies. Nevada tops the list of states with the most complaints per 100,000 residents (11.4) with Florida (9.3), Delaware (9.0), Georgia (7.7) and New Jersey (7.4) filling out the top five.
As part of their findings, the U.S. PIRG recommends that state and federal policymakers improve consumer protection efforts and put an end to:
- Collecting debts without proper information and documentation
- Stopping court cases where debt collectors bring robo-signed cases in court
- Ending the practice of threatening, harassing or embarrassing consumers
- Protecting consumers’ credit records unfairly penalized by medical debts
Out-of-control medical debt leading to unethical and illegal creditor harassment often requires a skilled bankruptcy attorney to secure a much-needed fresh start.