As someone with a 790 credit score who has never made a late payment on any account in my entire life, I thought it was either a joke or a scam when I received a call from the Fidelity Creditor Service company to hound me for money. The events that follow happened over the next 90 minutes or so from getting the initial call.
This is what my alleged debt is for:
- Services which were rendered at Century City Doctor’s Hospital nearly 4 years ago.
- When I answered the phone, she first said I owed $1,680 but then after I agreed to pay, they tried upping the total amount to $2,451.88 (will discuss this more in a minute).
- They are not able to provide me with an itemized bill for this alleged debt.
As I said, my first assumption was that this Fidelity Creditor Service out of Glendale, California was some sort of scam or ripoff. However that’s not the case – they’re legitimately collecting outstanding debts for Century City Doctor’s Hospital, which apparently went bankrupt not too long after my treatment (which if I recall correctly, was a bone scan).
So they are collecting debts for a bankrupt hospital? Okay, that sounds reasonable. But the circumstances surrounding this are definitely NOT reasonable…
- My phone number has been the same for around 5 years so there is no excuse for them to not call me until years later. Their response was that they aren’t legally required to notify me by phone (which is true) and they called me as a courtesy. But the question is… if they were serious about debt collection from me, then why didn’t they give me a “courtesy” call during the past 3 to 4 years?
- They claim to have mailed me a bill in June, but to an address I haven’t lived at for a few years. My credit report clearly reflects my one and only current address and has for years, so why would they mail me at an old address but not the current one reflected on my report?
That brings us to the question… being that they could have gotten a hold of me if they tried, why would they wait so long? Well my suspicion is it might have something to do with the interest which is accruing, ballooning the principal almost 50% higher to $2,451.88 (that’s $771.88 more).
This is totally unacceptable
My credit is important to me. I also strongly believe all legitimate bills should be paid. Therefore I agreed to pay the bill immediately, but under the following stipulation:
It is unacceptable to have this debt appear as “paid in full” on my credit report, because it was a bill I was never once notified about, ever. It needs to be removed entirely.
This needed to be in writing (you can’t trust a debt collector!) so they agreed to email me a letter stating such and surprise! The letter now states I am paying $2,451.88 – because of 10% interest compounded. Prior to that, I was told $1,680 and interest wasn’t mentioned.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it felt as if they took advantage of my eager willingness to settle the debt and then decided to try tacking on interest, because they assumed I would still pay it.
Well *if* that was their plan, they made a big mistake…
My promise to go crazy
If Fidelity Creditor Service thought they could milk me for interest unethically, they’re sorely mistaken. If this was a bill I was sent and ignored, then I deserve to pay interest. But the fact is that I never once received a bill – ever – and therefore the idea of paying interest on a debt I was never notified about is totally outrageous.
I go bonkers and tell them…
I’ll spend whatever amount of money it takes (many times more than the amount owed) to become a legal nightmare for them. And guess what? This wasn’t a bluff. Out of principle, I was so disgusted with what they were trying to do, I honestly would spend virtually anything to engulf them in lawsuits and legal headaches. Why? Because it wouldn’t be a waste of money to me, if in the end it taught them to not pull that kind of crap with other people. Money was beside the point; it was about the morality of the situation.
Well apparently they realized I was serious so they reluctantly agreed to charge me only the principal AND still report the account per my specifications. But one last trick up their sleeve… now there was a $50 charge for credit card payments…. BS! (hey, I wanted the reward points!) Fortunately, they quickly backed down.
What is it happens to you?
Now my situation is a bit different because:
(A) This was related to a car accident and I’m fairly confident I will be able to get reimbursed for it eventually. But even if I don’t, I personally have no problem paying the full amount – if I agreed to a bone scan at $X, I want to make good on my word and pay the $X.
(B) From the looks of their website it appears Fidelity Creditor Service does debt collection on a contingency basis. So it’s not like the money is just lining the pockets of Fidelity Creditor’s, but also the now defunct entity (which I agree, is owed money if they weren’t paid for my services by insurance).
But if this happens to you, how should you handle it? Well after this nearly 90 minute ordeal, I called my doctor who had ordered this scan and his office said others have experienced similar circumstances. If you stumble across this review, because you also had a bill from this hospital and were never informed about it, don’t get bullied for interest.
Written or last updated November 2011