Bill went to collection because of the company's mistake, what do I do?
March 25, 2013 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Enzo Clinical Labs had my incomplete address on file. I never received the bill and it went to collection. What do I do that it does not appear on my credit report?

In Nov. 2012, my gastroenterologist sent my blood samples to Enzo Clinical Labs. Enzo had my incomplete address on file. They sent the bill and it went back. I got a call from them in Jan 2013 about my address. I gave the complete address but the customer service personnel wasn't competent enough to record the address correctly. Seems like the bill went back again and now it went to collection.

I got a call today from a debt collection agency. I confirmed my correct address to them. The lady at the debt collection agency corrected the address.

Next I called up Enzo to give them an earful (in civil but not at all happy tone). The personnel confirmed the mistake and corrected the address and before ending the call, I explicitly expressed my disappointment with them.

My questions are,
- Since this bill went to debt collection agency, will it appear on my credit report? (At the moment, I do not have a SSN because I am on a dependent visa but in a year, I will have my SSN, will it appear on records then?)
- I posed to that agent that who is responsible for it affecting my credit report and score. She informs me that it is reported to the credit bureaus only after a couple of months with a debt collection agency. Did she lie?
- Should I ask for a letter from Enzo that this delay was because of their mistake and not mine? (so that should it appear on my credit report, I can have a letter to prove it)?
- If Enzo refuses to provide this letter, can I take a stand that I won't pay unless I get a letter?
- If Enzo refuses to provide a letter, can I ask the debt collection agency to provide me one?
- If all fails, what options do I have? Do I have to just suck it up?

Thanks a million in advance for all suggestions.
posted by zaxour to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd be surprised if you could get a letter from anyone absolving you of the final responsibility for paying the bill. And the only one who's going to suffer the consequences of "taking a stand" and continuing to not pay is you, so I think you might just have to suck it up and pay it now. Didn't they mention you had a balance when they called for your address in January?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:49 PM on March 25, 2013

I had a similar situation several years back, and after the bill collector went through her little speech, I asked if I could just pay the bill. She seemed a little surprised but said yes, and it never appeared on my credit report. This isn't any kind of guarantee, obviously!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:05 PM on March 25, 2013

The way these things work is that Enzo sells your debt to a collections agency for a fraction of what you owe them so that they can at least recoup some of their costs. The collections agency then harangues you for the money so that they can make a profit on their investment. The collections company won't put it on your credit report right away because that's part of their leverage to make you pay.

There's still a good chance this will end up on your credit report, even if you don't have a social security number yet. Just being able to match your name and new SSN with your name and address will be enough for them to put it on your report.

I had a similar problem last year. I called my doctor's office (this would be Enzo for you) and spoke to a billing person there to try to work it out. You may just be able to work with Enzo. If not, you can talk to the collections agency about paying your bill in exchange for removing the missed payment from your credit report. It's called a "pay for delete" and it's very common. Make sure you get it in writing that they won't put it on your credit report. This is all assuming you're willing to pay the bill, though. If you're not, there's not much to be done.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 7:02 PM on March 25, 2013

The question is not about paying or not paying the bill. This is the first time a medical bill went unpaid BECAUSE I did not receive the bill. If I don't receive the bill, how am I supposed to pay it?

As soon as I receive it, I will pay the bill.

And the lady who called in Jan did not mention about payment. She just said, you will receive a correspondence which I guessed must be some kind of bill. I have 3 doctors so I don't know who sends samples to which company.

Lets say, in future, they match name with this incident and put it on my credit report. And the bill is already paid, what can I do to get rid of it?
posted by zaxour at 5:08 AM on March 26, 2013

This may depend on your state, but in some states, medical bills are not allowed to appear on credit reports or affect credit scores.

It's worth doing some looking about the rules/laws in your state regarding the credit report piece.

And if you're in MA, I just saved you the trouble.
posted by zizzle at 5:58 AM on March 26, 2013

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