In our last post —if you haven’t read it yet click here for part 1—, we discussed the credit bureaus’ announcement that they are changing how they will include medical debt on consumers’ credit reports. Industry watchers estimate that these changes will eliminate 70% of medical debt reports. But let’s talk about steps you can take to ensure that you’re one of those who will benefit from these changes.
First, request a free credit report and review what your record currently says. Look for any information relating to medical debt, but also keep an eye out for any other out-of-date information or inaccurate reporting (e.g., your credit report contains someone else’s information).
When you review your file, pay attention to even the smallest errors. Mistakes can have a big impact on your credit score.
For example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has said when a credit bureau includes a collections action of more than $100 on your credit report, that can reduce a score of 680 by more than 40 points. And it has even more of an effect on people with higher scores. Those with a score of 780 can see their score drop by more than 100 points!
Additionally, don’t expect entries of debts to disappear once you’ve paid the debt off. Medical debt is frequently sold to third parties for collection, and studies have shown that many collection agencies aren’t good at updating records of other offices or credit bureaus.
If you find any entries related to medical debt, contact your medical provider, the third party you paid, and the bureau to notify them of any medical debt-related error. When submitting your complaint, ask how long it should take before your credit report is updated. Then put a note in your calendar to request a new report soon after that date—to make sure that your record has been updated.
If you have already notified a bureau of the error, but the bureau hasn’t corrected your credit report, you can contact an attorney who specializes in working to get people’s credit restored.
While there are agencies that offer services for credit restoration, recent reports show that the credit bureaus frequently disregard these complaints from these companies. But an attorney can take action to fix your credit report and help you get compensation for damages you might have sustained because your credit report was inaccurate.
If you identify any problems with your credit, including medical debt that should be removed under the new policies, contact an attorney who specializes in representing clients like you—someone who can help you repair your record and obtain the compensation you deserve.