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Most medical debts come off credit reports. What if it’s not

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If you have medical debt weighing down your credit score, it may be wiped off your credit report after a few months.

But before you rejoice at the good news, first make sure your debt is eligible.

Three lending companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – recently announced that they will cancel all medical debts that have been sent to collections and eventually paid off from July 1st.

In addition, any unpaid medical debt will not show up on credit reports for a year, compared to the previous 6 months, to give consumers time with providers and insurers to review the bill.

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In the first half of 2023, credit reporting companies will also not include medical bills under $500 on their credit reports.

“Otherwise, you could have a flawless credit score and that medical debt could bring you down,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate and CreditCards.com.

“Sometimes it’s just an insurance mix-up, or it can be a life-or-death crisis.”

This, in turn, can affect other areas of your life. Your credit score determines whether you qualify for a mortgage, as well as the interest rate you will pay on any loans or credit cards.

It can also determine if you can rent an apartment or even find a job. According to a 2018 National Association of Background Checkers report, nearly half of employers check some or all of their candidates’ credit reports.

Check your credit reports

After July 1, check to see if any paid medical debts that were listed on your reports have disappeared. Thanks to Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you are eligible to receive one free credit report per week from each of the top three credit reporting companies until the end of the year.

Reports available via AnnualCreditReport.com.

“You should always check your credit report,” said Chi Chi Woo, a staff lawyer at the National Consumer Advocacy Center.

This is because mistakes can happen. More than a third of Americans have found at least one mistake on their credit report, according to a study. 2021 Consumer Reports investigation. but Consumer Data Industry Associationwhich represents credit scoring companies, called the Consumer Reports story “completely false and misleading.”

On the other hand, a 2012 Federal Trade Commission study found that 25% of Americans made a mistake on their credit reports.

Submit a dispute

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If the medical debt that should have been removed still exists, you can file a dispute to have it erased with every credit reporting company that shows the debt. Here are links for each:

You must also dispute this with the company that provided the information; in the case of medical debt, which is often the debt collector.

If there is a debt that has been repaid but shows up as unpaid, things can get a little more complicated.

“We generally recommend submitting a dispute by certified mail,” Wu said.

Attach documents showing that the debt is repaid, she said. This should go to both credit reporting firms and debt collectors. (Here sample letter from the FTC for challenging errors in credit reports.)

Credit agencies have up to 30 days to investigate the claim. It’s not uncommon for your dispute to get rejected, Wu says, especially if it’s over, whether it’s paid or not paid, so you may have to dispute the debt multiple times. Be sure to include more information in a follow-up post.

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