A reader thinks his identity was stolen from an urgent care center. Now what?
Question: In January, I went to an urgent care center after I fell off a ladder. I was treated really good. But last month, I started getting calls from a really obnoxious bill collector. He said I owed $3,000 for my son’s treatment for a broken arm. Here’s the thing: I don’t have a son! At least not one that I know of.
I told the guy he got it wrong, but he and another dude keep calling me. They’re threatening all kinds of trouble. I went back to the urgent care center, and they said they didn’t know anything about this. When I told the bill collectors that the urgent care center would vouch for me, they didn’t care. They want their money, and they’re calling every day. What the hell do I do?
— Paul in Colorado
Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…
You’re not going to find this reassuring, Paul, but you’re not alone. Last month alone, Debt.com reported twice on the growing problem of medical identity theft.
First, we reported that 44 percent of all American adults fear this particular form of ID theft. Then we noted that one-third of all data breaches come from inside hospitals. So what can you do? Most advice on this topic — including Debt.com’s — is how to prevent this sickening kind of theft.
What if it’s already happened, however? That’s the case with you, Paul. There’s a name for what you’re facing. It’s called collector harassment. You can read all about it in Collector Harassment Basics.
Fortunately, there’s a law that governs — and punishes — bill collectors. It’s called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA for short. For instance, when you say collectors are calling you “every day,” the FDCPA says can’t call you Sundays or before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. on the other days. There are many other restrictions, too…
- They can’t use obscene language.
- They can’t threaten you with harm or arrest.
- They can’t call you without identifying themselves.
If the calls are still coming, you can get a free consultation of your situation by filling out this collector harassment form. Debt.com will match you with a specialist in the field of ending such harassment. To help you, these specialists will charge a small fee, but you don’t pay for the consultation. If you don’t follow up with us, Paul, please consult someone. Bill collectors seldom give up on their own. Someone has to stop them.
Have a debt question?
Email your question to [email protected] and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.
Published by Debt.com, LLC