Answer User Questions about CollectionAgency Tips

Read these 3 Answer User Questions about CollectionAgency Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Collection Agency tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How old does a medical bill have to be before it is non-collectable?

Tips on Hospital Bill Collections

Hospitals may seek payment according to the guidelines of your specific state laws. Generally, three to 10 years is the timeline in which most states allow hospitals to take legal action. Each state sets a statute of limitations (SOL) according to the type of outstanding debt:

- Oral agreements are undocumented agreements between two or more parties
- Open Accounts – are lines of credit that may be used repeatedly (includes credit cards, home equity lines of credit, department store revolving accounts and others).
- Promissory Note – is written unconditional promise to remit a sum of money

- Written Contracts – are deemed as written credit contracts (in example: car loans and mortgages)

For example, in Nebraska the statute of limitations (SOL) is four years for oral agreements, 5 years for written contracts, six years for promissory notes and four years for open accounts. To determine how long a hospital can collect a bill contact your state's Attorney General's office.

Can a debt collector draft money from my bank account without my permission?

Tips on Unfair Debt Collection Practices

According to the guidelines outlined by the Federal Trade Commission, unfair debt practices include the following:

- Applying a payment to a debt that you are unaware of or do not believe you owe.

- The act of depositing post dated checks prior to the due date

- The collection of a debt greater than the debt owed; unless your state authorizes such charges.

- Make false threats regarding the confiscation of property

For more information on fair debt collection practices, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website at

I am engaged to a man who has an ex-girlfriend who racked up bills in his name. Collection agencies call his house often requesting to speak to her. I am concerned that when we get married we will be overwhelmed with surprise debt that he has to pay due to her old bills.

Tips on Managing Debt Before Marriage

Unfortunately, if the accounts were held only in your fiancé's name, he is responsible for paying the entire sum of each bill or debt. He may consider contacting the financing agencies where he has outstanding debt(s) and negotiate a payment plan.

Debt consolidation is another alternative. As with any other professional service, shop around and compare service prices and terms. Remember if your fiancé neglects his outstanding debt now, it may affect your credit, home buying power and property choices in the future.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.