Monday, October 23rd, 2017

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Can They Send Me to Collections?

Dear Melissa,
I have been making my scheduled, contracted, monthly payments to a medical office since December of 2003.  I have never been late and have never missed a payment.  They recently, out of the clear blue, sent my account to a collection agency because “they wanted more money a month” from me.  Are they in breach of contract?  At the time the contract was signed by them and I, there was only a balance of $411.90, but that the balance grew to nearly $4,000.00 before my treatment was done, and is now at about $2,500.00.  The contract states, and I quote, “Equal payments of $*** are required until the above noted balance is paid in full and the debt is satisfied.” 

It also states, “Due to my current financial situation the offices of **** has agreed to the following payment schedule: monthly payments with the first payment starting on ****.”  It states that failure to comply with the agreement may result in referral to a collection agency and I have never failed to comply.  Also, when I got the letter from the collection agency, I called them and they told me to send in a letter that states that I do not dispute the validity of the debt, but I do dispute that it was sent to collections.  I did this.  I sent the letter and the signed contract I have with the medical office to the collections agency and they contacted the medical office and gave them copies of what I sent them.  I also contacted the medical office and told them I expected my account to be taken out of collections immediately and they agreed to do that.  It has never been taken out of collections as the medical office told me it would be. 

I have still been sending my payments to the medical office as agreed for the last 2 months.  The collection agency contacted me again on 9-14-2009 and that was the last straw.  I called the medical office again and told them that I was still getting calls from the agency and the rude lady I spoke with every time said she didn’t know what else to do, that she had contacted the agency more than once.  I am ready to take this the small claims court.  Do I have a case?  Please let me know if you need further details.  Thanks.

Carissa G.

Dear Carissa,

Is the contract signed by both parties?  Does the contract state that you will not be turned over to a collection agency if all payments are met?

Unfortunately, it seems that the medical office may have misled you into thinking they would not turn over the bill to collections, even though they did not explicitly say that. 

With this type of economy, people are fearful that they will not receive money that has been given out on “credit.”  If the medical office has had trouble collecting from others, they may just be trying to strong-arm you into paying more a month – even though both parties agreed to an arrangement.  If you are still local, I would take the contract to the medical office and try to work it out in person. It may be the only way you can get them to agree to honor their commitment.

Melissa Douros Dovco Collection Solutions, Inc.

As the owner of Dovco Collection Solutions, Inc., Melissa Douros uses her eight years of being a collections specialists to offer advice and answer questions pertaining to debt collection. With running her own successful collection agency, she seeks to keep debt collectors accountable for their actions and in line with the law.

Do YOU have a question for Melissa? Email her at melissa@dovcocs.

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4 Responses to Can They Send Me to Collections?

  1. D. Walsh says:

    I just googled this. I ‘ve been taught as long as something is paid per month, no matter the dollar amount, You can not be sent to a collection agency whether it be outside or within the company. And most “payment plans” are not signed contracts.

  2. Melissa Douros says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice it that were true? Unfortunately, a company is under no legal obligation to keep a bill out of collections if monthly payments are being made.

  3. Sue Smith says:

    Please note that you agree to a budget based on a specific balance. That balance has been paid off – you would need to set another budget for an acceptable amount. They are not required to make payment arrangements in which you pay in perpetuity on a balance from ages ago. Your contract has expired pure and simple.

  4. Cheryl Andrews says:

    My husband had to visit the emergency room last spring when he was in between jobs and without insurance. We paid a portion of the bill at the time of his visit and were planning on soliciting help from the hospital’s “scholarship” program for low income families. Soon after the incident, he did begin a job and we felt that the scholarship wasn’t necessary and hoped we could make payments bi-monthly. Thus, I began sending payments and have sent them regularly since that time. Can they still turn me over to collections, because I was under the assumption that if “good faith” payments were being made/received, that it would keep our account from going into collections.

    I received a letter today stating that my account was now in the hands of a collection agency and that a radiculous interest rate is being charged. Please advise if I have any rights in this matter.

    Thank you for your time ~

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