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I opened up a Credit Karma account and noticed a collection in the amount of $7368. It was originated from Eisenhower Medical center. So I called Eisenhower to inquire and after 45 minutes on the phone, Eisenhower billing department had stated she didn't know how they could have made such a mistake.

Apparently the billing department was trying to authorize a surgery my son in December of 2015, in my name. Now my son already had pre-authorizations for the surgery. Billing was trying to bill the claim in my name so it wasn't authorized. The lady that helped me apologized profusely but the damage has already been done to my credit.

She said it would take up to 30 days to take off my credit. My question is what more can I do to ensure this doesn't happen again. Shouldn't the hospital be penalized for ruining my credit over this 7 month period. I never received bills from them for the outstanding balance and don't think this is fair.

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    Once the mistake is removed your credit score will shoot back up and it will be as if it never happened. Did anything happen to you in the last 7 months as a direct result of a lower credit score? – TTT Jun 12 '17 at 20:58
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    @TTT - if they remove it. I've tried to have stuff corrected, even basic stuff such as addresses where I've lived, and they refused to correct it. The information that credit agencies provide isn't reliable, but banks and others seem to trust it implicitly. – Don Branson Jun 12 '17 at 21:58
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    While the hospital has admitted their mistake and may be taking steps to correct it, I would strongly urge you to contest the error with the credit bureaus as well (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion in the US). – asgallant Jun 12 '17 at 22:31
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    @TTT I've gotten multiple bogus addresses removed. However, all but one of them were addresses that did not exist at all (the street did not exist at the specified number) so it would have been easy for them to verify. In one case the address could logically exist, whether a building actually had that number I do not know. – Loren Pechtel Jun 13 '17 at 0:56
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    "what more can I do to ensure this doesn't happen again?" - campaign for universal healthcare? – Flexo Jun 13 '17 at 8:08
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My question is what more can I do to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Credit monitoring services can be helpful at detecting things like this early, but they can't actually prevent them, clerical errors will persist.

Shouldn't the hospital be penalized for ruining my credit over this 7 month period. I never received bills from them for the outstanding balance and don't think this is fair.

Did your temporary poor credit cause any harm? There have been a number of judgments against companies that have wrongfully damaged an individual's credit score. If you were denied a loan, or stuck with a higher interest rate due to this error, then you might have a pretty strong case against the hospital. There are even cases where just the loss of credit was deemed enough to warrant compensation, but I'd imagine they are less likely to be won.

I'm guessing it's not worth pursuing compensation unless you had some situation in the last 7 months that clearly cost you more due to your credit score, but that's for you to decide.

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    Great answer. Was there any harm is the key question. – TTT Jun 12 '17 at 20:57
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The hospital has done what they can do in terms of repairing the damage; 30 days is reasonable given reporting frequency. No permanent harm has been done in terms of your credit. Further, since this is a medical collection, it didn't do a whole lot of damage in the first place; many credit scoring algorithms do not consider medical collections at all or nearly as much as they would consider non-medical collections, as they are not particularly predictive of future performance.

As far as penalties; probably not, as this seems like it was an honest mistake on their part. If you didn't apply for credit during this time, no real harm has been done. If you did apply for credit, were turned down, and suffered some specific harm as a result (such as lost a deposit on a house), you could consider suing in small-claims court for that specific harm.

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    Yup, I agree OP could sue. But since it's take 7 months to discover this, I doubt anything will come from it. Best just to move on. – Michael Jun 12 '17 at 19:17
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Unfortunately, the only thing you can do to ensure that this doesn't happen again is to go over all paperwork and ask the clarification questions at the time it happens. Meaning, if your son has to have surgery again, go over the paperwork with the billing department to ensure that everything is correct.

The good thing is that the hospital has acknowledged that the error is on their part and they will write to the credit bureaus to correct the error - either update or delete. This will then reverse any damages and negative impact related to that particular account and only that account for this particular incident

The Federal Trade Commission has more information on disputing and correcting errors on credit reports.

  • If her son pays bills its as likely as not she never even saw the paperwork. – Joshua Jun 13 '17 at 21:15
  • That is true, assuming her son is not a minor and was responsible for the bill. – Michael Jun 13 '17 at 21:16
  • The pre-authorization implies credit card. Non-emancipated minors getting credit cards is highly unusual. – Joshua Jun 13 '17 at 22:02
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    @Joshua: 'preauthorization' in this context can and I think likely does mean authorization by the insurance company that a proposed treatment is/will be covered for this patient – dave_thompson_085 Jun 14 '17 at 7:40
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What's not "fair"? You contacted the hospital. They admitted to a mistake, and it's going to be remove from your credit report, as you have asked. The hospital is not the credit bureau, and they don't govern the policy by which incorrect information is removed. If you want it done faster, you've got about a ton of red tape toward getting legislation passed to change the policies of the Federal Trade Commission, which is the policy-maker here in the U.S.

Let's think this through. Would it be fair to penalize businesses, or people, for every time they've ever made a mistake? Have you never made a mistake? In a court of law, you can sue for so-called punitive damages but genuine mistakes (lacking malicious intent) don't really apply. You could sue for damages, but you'd have to show actual, material consequences of their mistake. I'm not a lawyer, but it doesn't seem you'd have much to go by.

That said, if the hospital's done as they should, the entry should drop off within 30 days, and you can go on like this whole thing never happened. As far as the future is concerned - stuff happens! Live your life one day at a time.

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    "Would it be fair to penalize businesses, or people, for every time they've ever made a mistake" pretty conclusively "yes". If you make an "honest mistake" that allows a company to apply penalties or charge you more the vast vast vast majority will take every chance they can. Why should individuals roll over meekly and take it to protect the poor abused stockholders? You own a business? You make a mistake that screws someone else over? You pay for the harm done. Simple as that. – Murphy Jun 13 '17 at 10:51
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    @Murphy How was this person "screwed over"? What harm was done? There's no mention that any new credit was received at an inflated interest rate caused by this error. The fact that the punitive damages is being mentioned in a question about a trivial credit reporting error is hilarious. – quid Jun 13 '17 at 17:20
  • @quid As the answer from Hart CO points out there have been cases where just the loss of credit was deemed enough to warrant compensation. If you're running a company and you're granted the ability to harm someones reputation through their credit score you're expected to exercise reasonable care and pay attention. it's not mentioned if any loans were refused or higher interest rates applied. But it's not particularly unlikely. It boggles the mind that so many people seem to think being a company owner gives you the right to ignore/dismiss your own mistakes. – Murphy Jun 14 '17 at 11:43
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    @Murphy, You can only recover actual damages. Recovering actual damages is different from recovering punitive damages. You can get a judgement for your actual damages (damages = cost) IF your damaged credit score cost you money. I agree that it's not mentioned if any loans were refused so it makes no sense to assume damages exist as you are. Don't you think if this experience cost money that would be mentioned in the question? Maybe you should ask the person asking the question to clarify if there was an actual loss before making big assumptions of being "screwed over." – quid Jun 14 '17 at 16:27
  • @quid Great points there! – Xavier J Jun 14 '17 at 16:43

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