Medical Debt: You May Not Owe It

The New York Times
Ann Carrns

Nearly two-thirds of people who complained to federal regulators about medical debt collectors said they did not owe the money, a new report found.

The report, by the advocacy group United States Public Interest Research Group — better known as U.S. PIRG — and the Frontier Group, a left-leaning think tank, examined more than 17,000 publicly available complaints about medical debt collection filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over more than three years. Researchers determined that more than 60 percent of the complaints made one of the following contentions: that the debt wasn’t owed in the first place, that it had already been paid or had been discharged in bankruptcy, or that it wasn’t verified as debt the consumer actually owed.

“Debt collectors often go after the wrong people,” said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for U.S. PIRG.