Wherein I am hospitalized and the woes arising from my indisposition
Nearly two years ago now, my appendix burst and I had to go to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. I spent four days in the hospital and another week or so at home. About a month later, I started getting calls from the hospital saying I owed them $1,400 for the pleasure.
At the time, my wife was not working and our youngest daughter was less than a year old. I explained this to a kindly young lady in accounts receivables, made a small initial payment and set up a plan to pay $25 per month on the balance. The maiden was very nice, and said the hospital’s only request was that I increase my payment amounts after a few months as I was able.
An account of collection and how it came to be reported
Fast forward a few months. In August 2014, I missed a payment, so in September I sent in two payments together. However, they didn’t arrive until after the payment date, which put me 30 days late from my August payment. In that short period, the hospital sent my account to a collections agency.
Unfortunately, I was not as wise then as I am now. The collection agency, gross and uncouth fiend that it is, called my home and spewed its poisonous, loathsome spittle at my wife. She fled! them and told them to call me at work or on my cell phone, and hung up. However, they caught me one day when I was working from home, and after a very heated discussion with the wretch on the other end, I did two things that I have since learned you should never do:
- I admitted that the debt was mine.
- I agreed to make payments.
The depths of debt, and a description of the unfaithfulness of lesser men
Over the next few months, through the Christmas season, I paid high tributes to this collection agency, a rotten and unyielding slaveowner. Then, in February, I paid the balance of it off with part of a bonus I received.
And then, whence I believed that I had been delivered from the heavy yokes encumbering me for six months, I discovered that the collection agency had reported the account to two of the three most fearsome credit beasts in the financial world: Experian (EXP) and TransUnion (TU). Ooh, I was enraged. I tore my clothes and poured ashes on my head, after which I had to wear sackcloth (or something purported to be sackcloth). The worst part is that they didn’t report it when the account initially arrived on their doorstep ? they reported it after I had started paying them.
So in March I called that vile collection company and, using honey-like tones and sychophancies of all manner, I confirmed that they had received my final payment and that my account no longer was in arrears. With a full strong voice, I then relayed that the company must send word to the credit beasts and clean the scent of my blood from their claws. The collection agency’s page said the beasts would be notified immediately, and that their appendages would be well washed by the following month. Yeah, right; a month later, both my EXP and TU reports not only still showed the account, but it indicated a balance of nearly $500.
Wherein I begin a quest of reparation and face sundry dangers, pitfalls and fierce beasts
So, I searched far and wide to see what champions I could raise to my cause. A friend pointed me to the CreditBoards.com forums, which has an amazing amount of information about how to fix and improve your credit. I found a sub-forum dealing specifically with medical collections, and started reading.
Boy, was I impressed. I had never realized, until those weeks I spent scouring the CreditBoard forums, how many laws there are relating to the proper reporting of medical- and credit-related information. Being a libertarian, I generally don’t think that more regulation is a good thing, but I have to tell you, when I saw the legal tactics described (and presumably used) by some of the boards’ members to improve credit scores, I was duly impressed.
So, armed with the knowledge and experience of those who had successfully fought collection accounts before me, I prepared to head off to do battle with the credit reporting agencies, collection agency and, if necessary, that bastion of high medicine, the hospital itself.
To TransUnion I wrote the following letter:
Dear Credit Union,
My name is Zahir, and my Social Security Number is 666-66-6666.
I am sending this dispute certified mail #XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX to ensure that you receive it.
Specifically, I am disputing account #XXXXXXX on my report #XXXXXXXXX dated DD/MM/YYYY.
Please advise me as to the name and address of the creditor, the date and type of service, and to whom the service was provided.
If you can obtain this information, I also would need the name of the person providing this data, and the manner in which it was provided in order that I may pursue additional legal remedies.
While TransUnion staggered, dazed and blinded by my stunning assailment, I thrust my hard, cold blade at Experian, using their online dispute mechanism to demand similar verification of this same account. I was not as sure that my blows against Experian would result in victory, as it was seemingly a much too easy process. However, I had nothing to do but wait for a response.
Wherein the second of my foes is fallen, and the first remains but in weakened form
My dispute to TransUnion arrived two days after I sent it, and the following day my Experian report displayed a small bit of text next to the disputed item: “This item currently under investigation.” During the next 35 days, no change occurred.
And then, suddenly, this morning, I received a short e-mail from firstname.lastname@example.org stating simply:
The results of your investigation of information in your Experian personal credit report are now available for online viewing. For your protection, please review your results online within four days of the following date: 06/27/2015
Swiftly, and with much fear and trepidation, I followed the instructions provided to access my updated report. I scrolled down to see a blessd little message that read:
Account Number: XXX…. Outcome: Deleted
There was much rejoicing in the halls of my office.
During which we arrive at the conclusion of this particular tale, but without a final resolution, leaving you perhaps feeling unfulfilled, yet hopeful
And now, I have faith that simply time and patience will deliver unto me the second of my fearsome, yet mortal, enemies, giving me at last a radiant triumvirate of credit scores each above 700.