Many people in Tennessee, and elsewhere, are struggling with medical debt. As a result, medical debt collectors may have contacted them at one time or another. Although, like others, federal law prohibits these collectors from using harassing tactics, they sometimes cross the line. Therefore, it is important for people to understand their rights with regards to medical debt collectors to help ensure they do not get taken advantage of.
With few exceptions, contacting people during unreasonable or inconvenient times could be considered debt collection harassment. In general, debt collectors should not contact a person before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m. unless they have been given specific permission. Furthermore, debt collectors are not allowed to contact people at their places of employment if they are informed that the people cannot receive personal calls, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Debt collectors cannot simply contact people and demand payment. They must provide people with certain information. A CBS News report points out that collection agencies, including those that collect medical debts, must send people validation notices. These notices should include information about the original bill, as well as any other charges or fees that were added on. Under most circumstances, medical debt collectors are supposed to suspend any collection activities until they have provided people with their validation notices. Continuing to make collection attempts without sending the notice could constitute harassment.
Sometimes, people may contest a bill, or for other reasons may not wish to be contacted any further by a medical debt collector. According to the FTC, they could choose to notify the collector in writing not to contact them further. Then, any contact, other than to tell them no further action will be taken or that the collector intends to take a specific action, may be considered harassment.
Medical debt can easily overwhelm people with otherwise clear financial histories. Those who are struggling with overwhelming debt may consider speaking with an attorney. A legal representative may explain their options, and help them determine how best to proceed given their situations.