Subject: Medical bill collections
Question: My husband passed away in March--I just received over $13,ooo in medical bills that were sent to collection. With all I am dealing with, do I have to worry about them garnishing my wages for these bills?
Answer: Sadly enough, yes you do have to worry about getting those bills sent to collection agencies, getting judgments against you, garnishment and ruined credit. The number of spouses who have to endure this seemingly insane treatment is beyond imagination. When a loved one is seriously ill or injured spouses always sign for the bills without even thinking about the consequences and certainly nobody other than the hospitals, debt collectors, judges credit bureaus and the like can fault them for that.
While $13,000 is a small debt load indeed when it comes to hospital bills it will balloon into as much as two or three times that amount if it isn't paid immediately or sooner. Spouses who are left with little or no income and possibly without recent work history are in real trouble. It is likely that their phones will soon start ringing off the hook with a maddening frequency and they don't know what to do about it but the answers to the problem are really quite simple.
What you can do about it depends on what state you live in for starters. If you live in a state where there are no state consumer protection laws all you can do is let the phone ring until they get tired of trying to reach you and turn the debt over to collection agencies who will start the process all over again.
That is the time you can start to deal with the problem effectively by getting yourself a small digital voice recorder and a Radio Shack recording controller for digital voice recorders. Be sure the recorder you buy has a USB port so you can download the recorded calls to your computer.
You will also want to find and download a program called WAVEPAD This is a free program. Wavepad will let you use it's full capabilities for 30 days after which time it shuts most of it's extra features off but that don't matter because you don't need them anyway. Wavepad is a voice editor program and you can do lots of neat stuff with it. But first you copy the recorded calls from the recorder on to your hard drive then you can listen to the audio, clean up any bad portions and save it back to your hard drive. You can take out noise, periods of silence and more with it. You will be able to use those audio recording files and I will explain how in just a bit.
The next thing you need to do is go to my web page at http://www.creditwrench.com/18questions.html and print out the 18 questions to ask debt collectors when they call. The reason is that when debt collectors call they naturally want you to pay up as quickly as possible so they use a canned speech to keep you on the defensive, often using abusive tactics to convince you to pay up. It is easy to fall prey to their tactics because you will most likely feel that you want to pay them in order to preserve your deceased loved one's good name and reputation. You may feel a moral responsibility to pay the bills off but you also need to look at it from a practical side. You have lost about all you can already. You are left with the heartbreak and it is certainly not your fault that they didn't make it. The resultant bills are a business decision that is totally separate from the emotional ones so you should not accept being financially abused on top of your loss.
So instead of letting yourself be abused by hounding debt collectors you stop them cold with the questions you demand answers to and if you don't get those answers you just hang up on them after wasting as much of their time as possible. If you take control of the conversations they will stop calling you once they realize that they are not going to make any money off of you. Normally that only takes about 3 or 4 calls and then the phone goes back to blessed silence. OF course you can expect that they will also send you letters in the mail. The natural tendency for those who can't pay up is to throw them in the trash but you should never do that. Keep them and the envelopes they came in too. As soon as you receive their initial communication by mail you should check it over to see that it has all 5 of the indices required by the Fair debt Collection Practice Act (FDCPA) as well as the required Miranda notices.
Then you need to send them your demand for validation. This should be as short as possible and should not be any of the validation letters you can find all over the Internet. They are easily spotted as being Internet letters because they carry lots of legal sounding nonsense and a list of questions the debt collector supposedly has to answer, sworn to under penalty of perjury on top of that. Debt collectors spot those kinds of letters quickly and often go after those who use them more viciously than they normally would.
The proper format and wording for validation letters are a part of my Creditwrench basic course which contains a series of letters designed to stop the debt collectors cold and keep you out of court if at all possible. While nothing is 100% successful, Creditwrench letters get the job done more often than not. They help you gather valuable evidence to use against the debt collector in court if you end up getting sued or if you choose to use it against them in federal court if need be. You should immediately understand that your goal should be to sue them in federal court for violations of consumer protection law instead of letting them sue you in local courts where you stand an excellent chance of losing and getting a judgment against you with the garnishment of wages and other possible collection activities.
You should immediately understand that it is better to be a plaintiff in federal court than it is to be a defendant in local courts where you will most likely be badly treated to say the least. Local court judges think in terms of how badly you treated the poor hospital who did their best to save your spouse and not in terms of your loss and grief. They will be totally uncaring and unsympathetic. Creditwrench teaches you how to deal with debt collectors and put an end to your problems.
Although Creditwrench is not a credit repair device and does not teach anything about credit repair the end result is usually a vastly improved credit score as well. You can get a lot more helpful information than I can possibly give here by visiting my web site at
and my message board at http://consumers.creditwrench.com
and joining in on our regular Friday night conference calls. The call in and pin number can be found on my message board too. You can also call and speak to me personally any time you which by calling 405-616-7901.
There is no cost or obligation for calling me and I will be glad to speak with you and usually for as long as you want to talk about your problems. You can call evenings, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays too. My purpose is to help you help yourself over these rough times. I do hope you will also rate my answer and let me know whether I have been helpful to you.