Central States Recovery Can Potentially Damage Your Personal Credit Standing For Up to 7 Years Unless You Learn How to Defend Yourself
Unexpected medical bills can be devastating, especially if you are uninsured or under-insured It’s no surprise that many people can’t handle the additional expense, and end up defaulting on their medical bills.
At this point, debt collectors such as Central States Recovery (also known as Central State Recovery) come into the picture.
Central States Recovery collects for over 800 hospitals and institutions, so it is quite possible you will end up dealing with them. However, the process will be pretty much the same no matter what debt collection company you happen to be dealing with.
Central States Recovery will purchase your medical bills from a hospital, medical clinic, or doctor for a portion of the balance, and then turn around and expect you to pay the full balance.
This allows the hospital to write off your account as a partial loss, and allows the debt collector the opportunity to turn a profit. Unfortunately, there’s really nothing in it for you as the consumer. By defaulting on your debt, you have opened yourself to a world of discomfort and even financial damage at the hands of the debt collector.
Once your debt is sold, you will be contacted by a representative of the debt collection agency. This often occurs by phone, but, legally, the debt collector must also mail you an official collections notice detailing the name of the debtor, the name of the original lender, and the balance owed.
Now is your first opportunity to take action against the debt collector. Within 30 days of receiving the collections notice, you can send a debt validation letter. This is especially important to do if you believe that the debt in question is invalid, inaccurate, or unverifiable.
For example, the debt might be in someone else’s name, it might be very old and possibly expired, it might have been already paid to the original lender, or it might have been previously discharged in a bankruptcy.
Even if you know that you owe the debt, you can still send a debt validation letter. The letter will force the debt collector to suspend all collection attempts while the gather the requisite legal proof that you owe what they say you owe. They will also have to prove that they are licensed to collect in your state.
This will buy you some time to come up with a plan of action for dealing with the debt.
A debt validation letter also serves as useful opportunity to request that the debt collectors contact you by mail rather than by phone. Doing this now will save you a lot of trouble later on, as annoying phone calls are among the top complaints against debt collectors.
You can create your own debt validation letter using a template, or you can hire a lawyer to compose a letter specifically for you. Hiring a lawyer is always a good idea, because they will be able to represent you much more effectively than you can represent yourself.
Plus, once you’ve hired a lawyer, the debt collectors have to communicate exclusively through that lawyer. Again, this saves you from a lot of frustrating or even frightening interactions with the debt collector.
Be sure to send your letter via certified mail, so that you can prove that the debt collection agency received it within the 30-day time frame. Also, keep a copy for your records.
If you’ve already missed the 30-day window for submitting a debt validation letter, don’t worry. There are still ways for you to fight back against debt collectors.
A collection item will stay on your credit report for up to seven years, depressing your score by up to 100 points. Once a credit items has appeared on your credit report, there are several ways to remove it:
- Wait it out. This can take years, and most people can’t afford to go 7 years without the ability to get new lines of credit.
- Pay off the associated debt. You may be able to come to an agreement with the debt collector in which you pay and they remove the collection item. This is not an automatic process, so be sure you get confirmation in writing that the debt collection agency has agreed to remove the collection item.
- Petition to have it removed. Under the Fair Credit Protection Act, debt collectors cannot report inaccurate, invalid, or unverifiable information to the credit bureaus. If you think your collection item violated this act, you or your lawyer can petition to have it removed.
- Bargaining. If the debt collector has violated your rights during the collections process, perhaps by calling you to the point of harassment or by making illegal threats, you may be able to bargain with them so that they will remove the collection item in exchange for you not pursuing a civil case against them.