If you’ve ever fallen behind on payments, then you probably have had some not-so-nice experiences with creditors. If you fall far enough behind and your debt gets sold to a collection agency, then you’re in for a real treat.
Dealing with creditors by mail and by credit report can present yet another challenge. Many of our clients don’t find out that they owe a particular creditor until they come into our office and we look at their credit report. Often, they owe thousands of dollars to a collection agency for a long forgotten debt, or a debt that isn’t even theirs.
How can a collection agency claim you owe them money when you never even got a bill in the mail from them in the first place? The scenario seems absurd, and yet it is an unfortunate fact of dealing with creditors. You may owe them money and not even realize it, and it may not even be your debt in the first place.
Watch Me Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat
A recent client of ours came into our office and experienced this exact scenario. We pulled a credit report for her as we do for all of our clients. She had kept very good records of all of all of her debts, and had added them up prior to coming to our office. So she thought she had a pretty good idea of what she owed
Our client was shocked to see that she owed at least $10,000 more than she had anticipated. Two of the debts were old medical bills that she thought her insurance had covered completely, but it turned out it only covered 80% of the cost. She had never received a single bill from the hospital or a statement from the collection agency which was now trying to collect on the debt. Regardless of not being provided knowledge of the bills, she still owed the debt.
The final surprise debt was from a collection agency collecting for a cable company. This debt could not possibly have been hers because she had never owned a TV in her adult life, and of course never had cable in her home. Again, she had never been billed for this, and yet her credit report claimed she owed then over $1,000.
Our client could have gone through the painstakingly complex process of trying to prove that she did not owe this debt through all three of the credit reporting agencies. This would involve dealing with each agency individually. Unfortunately, trying to show that a debt is not yours is a guilty-until-proven-innocent situation.
Fortunately for our client, bankruptcy not only eliminates the debts you know about, but it also erases surprise debts. When she filed, her $10,000 in surprise medical debt was completely eliminated. Additionally, the cable TV debt of $1,000 which wasn’t even hers was also eliminated, without ever having to discuss it with a credit reporting agency.