63% of medical debt complaints to federal regulators assert money isn't owed

Sixty-three percent of consumer complaints about medical debt collection claim the debt was never owed, was previously paid or discharged through bankruptcy or was not verified debt, according to a recent report.

In its report Medical Debt Malpractice, consumer advocacy group United States Public Interest Research Group and left-leaning think tank Frontier Group analyzed 17,701 medical debt collection complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over more than three years.

The agencies found medical debt reflects more than half of collections on consumer credit reports. In addition, complaints about medical debt collection are the second most common grievance filed with CFPB after credit card complaints.

For medical debt collection complaints, data revealed 48 percent of all complaints are attributed to "continued attempts to collect debt not owed." The top three complaints related to this issue are "debt is not mine" (24 percent), "debt was paid" (21 percent) and "not given enough info to verify debt" (15 percent). The report also found instances of harassment from collectors.

Researches stated medical bill complaints are concentrated to a small number of companies, as 10 companies accounted for more than 20 percent of all medical bill complaints. Transworld Systems was the company with the highest number of medical debt collection complaints, followed by Commonwealth Financial Systems and Tenet Healthcare Corp., according to U.S. PIGRG.

U.S. PIRG concluded the "complaints contained in the CFPB's consumer complaint database suggest that debt collectors not only regularly use aggressive and illegal tactics, but they also often target consumers who do not owe in the first place." The authors recommended debt collectors and buyers to not collect debts without appropriate documentation and to watch the use of threats, harassment and embarrassment in the collection process. 

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