Wrong doctor’s bill sent to collections, hurting credit score. What now?

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Q. My credit score dropped 100 points when a doctor’s office sent my account to collections because of a billing error on their part. I have always had a perfect credit score and the provider never informed me — they had a bad address for me — of an insurance billing error that they made in 2020. I spoke to the collection agency and the insurance agency multiple times and both say the provider is at fault and they need to rectify. However the provider will not return my phone calls or emails. I have spoken to others in the area and they are having the same poor service from this provider. What can I do to get this rectified?
— Angry patient

A. Sorry to hear about this error and the impact it’s had on your credit score.

Although you haven’t been able to resolve the situation by speaking with the collection agency and the insurance company, you do have other options to try to remove the error from your credit report.

Consumers have the ability to file a dispute with a credit agency when they find an error on their report, Claudia Mott, a certified financial planner with Epona Financial Solutions in Basking Ridge.

If you haven’t checked all three of your credit reports yet, you may want to be sure they all are showing the same information before continuing, Mott said. A free copy of your credit report can be obtained at AnnualCreditReport.com.

“Each of the three credit reporting agencies — Experian, Transunion and Equifax — provide the ability to start a dispute with an online form,” she said. “You’ll want to be sure to have all of your documents that provide the detailed history showing the billing and address errors readily available to be included with the dispute.”

The credit agencies have 30 days to respond, she said.

As an alternative, Mott said, you may wish to send a physical letter via registered mail so that you have a record of when the letter was delivered and signed for. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides instructions on how to dispute an error which includes a template letter.

“In the event that the credit agencies are not able to clear this up after reviewing the information, you have the right to submit a complaint with the CFPB,” she said. “According to their website they send over 10,000 complaints annually to various financial companies on behalf of consumers.”

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This story was originally published on Sept. 12, 2022.

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