Debt collection companies work with companies that people owe money to in order to try to collect all or part of that debt. Many times people who owe debt are called and sent letters constantly asking them for the money and trying to gather information about that person's finances. A new report suggests that some debt collectors are confronting patients at their hospital beside to collect medical debt, including at a healthcare system in Michigan. In some cases hospitals have allegedly allowed debt collectors into their departments, sometimes not representing themselves as debt collectors.
An unsuspecting patient, or a patient that might be on a medication, might be caught off guard and commit to a financial payment plan that they otherwise wouldn't have. Not only might patients be deceived into signing something, but their privacy would be violated by a debt collector possibly having access to their medical information.
Because of these tricky, deceptive and many times illegal debt collection tactics being used by medical debt collectors in Michigan and other places around the country, it is important to not sign any agreement from a debt collector in a hospital. It might be helpful to ask questions of the person if you aren't sure who they are, and speak with an attorney before signing something that you aren't sure of.
One state's attorney general is further investigating whether laws were broken. If someone's rights are violated by a debt collection agency, they might be subject to penalties. It is important that people understand their rights when they are dealing with debt collection agencies.
Source: The New York Times, "Debt Collector Is Faulted for Tough Tactics in Hospitals," Jessica Silver-Greenberg, April 24, 2012