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I’m Being Asked to Pay On a Debt I Paid But Can’t Find the Proof. – Stacey

“Dear Steve,

I was hospitalized in 2004 and paid out-of-pocket the balance that my insurance did not cover. I payed off and settled all debts at the beginning of 2005 with the hospital. They told me that I was clear and owed nothing else. This was almost 5 yrs ago and have not heard or received anything from them at all since.

I get a call today from a collection agency trying to collect on the $914 balanced that I payed off. I got layed off shortly after my hospitalizatiionn and had to use part of my severance pay to pay the $914. I told the woman from the agency that I had already payed it. She said, “Okay, just send us a copy of the cancelled check and we’ll drop it.” I said that I didn’t know if I still had the copy of the cancelled check from almost 5 yrs age. She then told me if I couldn’t come up with proof of payment that I would have to pay the debt and they would be happy to set me up on a payment plan.

I’ve heard recently that many patients from this hospital have been recently contacted about paying old debts they had already payed. They were being told the same thing-to come up with proof of payment or else pay the debt. What’s going on here? What are my rights and what can I do? The hospital is in very bad financial shape right now so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.



Dear Stacey,

Without proof that the debt was paid, either by a statement you received after you made the original $914 payment or some other proof of payment, they’ve got you in a bind with this zombie debt (old debt that comes back to life).

But my first step would be to contact the hospital for a statement on your account. They certainly have the records from back then. Since you say you paid the hospital directly then the payment should show there and that would end this matter.

I would also send a letter by traceable means to the collection company stating that you dispute the validity of this debt and ask them for proof that you owe this debt seine you paid it off previously.

You could also contact your bank from back then and ask them to research the matter for you. While they may charge you a small research fee for doing so, a copy of the $914 check would be invaluable in resolving this quickly.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.

P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • stacey

    Steve, thank you very much for your answer. Someone else also suggested that I get the bank to research the old check. I will probably pay the hospital billing dept. a visit first to get a statement. It’s just baffling to not hear a peep from them in almost five years after you were told all debts were settled and then to get a call out of the blue. It seems that if I really owed them that much that I would have heard or received something from them in the past five years. They’ve never had any problems sending me my bills or statements in the past in a timely manner. This just baffles me!

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