No. of Recommendations: 6

You wrote, Well - they wanted either my checking info or credit card over the phone and they refused to provide an agreement in advance stating our payment would resolve the debt in full. Said it wasn't their "policy". I said they weren't getting a thing until they provided the document, then they called me a deadbeat and threatened to ruin my credit. Gave me an ultimatum to do it their way by tomorrow . . . .or else!

I'm not sure we owe anything at all, and the whole thing is beyond the stature of limitations anyway as far as I can tell. But, it looks as if it may get ugly.

If you're not certain, I might dispute it all the way. (Or I might not. I have a story to explain that in a sec.)

In theory they shouldn't be able to sue you for the bad debt. Worse case you have a defense and if I recall correctly, if they sue (or even threaten to sue you) may have a (counter-)claim under the FDCPA. But they can still file a report with the CRAs until 7 years plus 180 have expired. If it's already more than 6 years, I'm guessing you have maybe a year before this expires.

I've actually gotten into a dispute with a CA over a small medical bill before. You could argue the bill might have been legitimate. It was for lab services rendered to my ex when she was in the hospital before our divorce. I never saw an original bill. The insurance company never saw an original bill. The CA wouldn't send me any documentation other than a printout from Windows Notepad that had some basic information - hardly proof of anything. The amount was small - under $90.

I'd found the item by pulling my reports. When I received their worthless validation response I wrote back. I filed disputes with all the CRAs. I also followed up with the original lab and finally got some answers. The lab hadn't copied my ex's info correctly and they apparently did not file the bill with the insurance or send either of us a bill. I gave them my insurance information for that period and they tried to file even though it was at least 5 years too late. The insurance refused to pay because it violated the timeliness provisions in their provider contract.

Now perhaps the debt was legitimate, but the provider contract is *supposed* to force the provider to go away at this point. But after all that work I just couldn't seem to get anyone interested in that theory and the collection agency insisted on "verifying" the information with the CRAs, which all but one (I think) took as proof of the debt.

Anyway, I found it was only dinging my score like 20-30 points (6 years is pretty old on a report) and it didn't make any difference on some things because small medical debts were excluded from consideration of certain things like ... insurance. Ultimately I decided it wasn't a big priority and just quit pursuing it. I still had decent credit even with that ding. Worse case I figured I could sue them for damages - after all, I'd warned them - if I thought I might have to finance a house before it went off my history; but at the time, it looked like it was going to fall off before it was a concern.

Turned out I was right. In 2012 I relocated and bought a house. No sign of that item.

Now I'm not saying you should ignore the CA ... but if you're busy with life and you don't think you're going to need your credit any time soon, it might be an option.

- Joel
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