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Report: Medical Debt Agencies Aggressively Go After Debts That Aren't Owed

<p>In this Dec. 20, 2011, file photo, medical bills are spread out on the kitchen table of a patient in Salem, Virginia. A new report found that some medical debt collection agencies use aggressive tactics to collect debts from patients that aren't actually owed.</p>
<p>In this Dec. 20, 2011, file photo, medical bills are spread out on the kitchen table of a patient in Salem, Virginia. A new report found that some medical debt collection agencies use aggressive tactics to collect debts from patients that aren't actually owed.</p>

There’s nothing illegal about aggressive debt collection.

The problem, the Public Interest Research Group has found in a new study, that in nearly two-thirds of cases where a complaint was , the debt was never owed in the first place.

Either it had already been paid, had been written off in a bankruptcy, or hadn’t been verified as the consumer’s debt.

Charlie Fisher with OSPIRG says the system is putting patients' credit at risk. “It’s pretty outrageous," he said.

"Oftentimes required multiple follow-ups to collection agencies, to insurance companies, to hospitals to get it off their record. If you can get it off in the first place.”

The report found the medical debt collector Oregonians complained about most is .

The company's chief compliance officer, Wade Isbell, said each complaint that is filed is investigated and responded to as quickly as possible.

"Many consumers feel that their insurance company either did not pay or did not pay as much as it should have," he said.

"Unfortunately, despite the notices that we send to consumers and the attempts we make to reach them by phone, the filing of a complaint is often the first communication that we receive from these consumers."

The report comes as the Trump administration has gone to court in an attempt to gain control of the .

The bureau is an executive branch entity, but the president doesn't have direct control over it, currently.

The CFPB was set up following the 2008 financial collapse.

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting