A Dated Offer

Allison is being intimidated by a collector until Dave tells her how to go on the offensive.

QUESTION: Allison in Michigan acquired multiple bills from an emergency room visit. She has one bill left and tried to settle with the agency. They want her to pay online, and she isn't willing to do that. Dave wants to know why she just doesn't pay the bill.

Dave's ANSWER: If you are trying to settle it, that's when you get it in writing. But if you owe $465 and you have $465, that's not a lot of money. That's what I meant by saying just pay it. You don't have to get a letter if you just pay the amount that's owed. Just send it to whoever the bill is owed. The hospital may have told you that it's out of their hands and is being handled by the debt collector now, but if you mail them the check, they'll cash it.

If you got them to lower your bill by half, you do have to get that in writing. Until you get it in writing, you do not have a deal. Don't give them any electronic access to your checking account because they'll take all the money out of your account. If they keep calling you, hang up on them.

Tell them that you talked to your financial counselor, and he said I could tell you that you were lying because your mouth was moving. When they send this in writing, be it over email or in a letter that you will accept this amount, I will send you a cashier's check the next day. Until then, they can kiss it, and hang up the phone.

They want you to pay online and over the phone because they are stupid and they think they can collect it right then and you won't follow through on the other deal. But the problem is that if you pay them $200 and you think you've settled the debt, they'll come back and try to collect the rest later because they lied. You have to get it in writing, or it did not occur.

If they have sent you an email with that reduced amount, then that's in writing. That's fine. It doesn't have to come through snail mail. It just has to be in writing. Print that email out and staple a copy of your cashier's check to it and you keep it in a file for the rest of your life with those other bills that you've paid.

If the date on that email offer has expired, call them back and tell them that, since you were not able to get the money from them because they refused to accept it through the mail, you need to have another email.

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