No surprise: Bulletin reminds collectors of medical debts of obligations under No Surprises Act

A reminder to debt collectors of their obligations when collecting medical debts to comply with federal prohibitions on misrepresentations and unfair practices was issued Thursday by the federal consumer financial protection agency.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said its Compliance Bulletin noted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act’s (FDCPA) prohibition on misrepresentations and unfair practices, including when collecting medical debts covered by the No Surprises Act (NSA). The bulletin also reminds consumer reporting agencies and information furnishers to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s (FCRA) accuracy and dispute resolution requirements, including when furnishing information about or reporting medical debts covered by the NSA.

Enacted last year, the NSA is aimed at protecting people covered under group and individual health plans from facing surprise medical bills when they receive most emergency services, non-emergency services from out-of-network providers at in-network facilities, and services from out-of-network air ambulance service providers, among others.

The bulletin advises credit bureaus that the accuracy and dispute obligations imposed by the FCRA apply with respect to debts stemming from charges that exceed the amount permitted by the NSA.

“The CFPB will investigate claims and take action against companies that attempt to collect or report or furnish consumer information about debts stemming from charges that exceed the amounts permitted under the No Surprises Act,” the bulletin states.

The bulletin also includes other reminders to debt collectors, information furnishers and credit bureaus:

  • Consumer financial protection law prohibits debt collectors from misrepresenting the character, amount, or legal status of any debt.
  • Furnishers of information to debt collectors must have reasonable written policies and procedures regarding the accuracy and integrity of consumer information provided to credit bureaus.
  • The accuracy and dispute obligations imposed by federal consumer financial protection law apply with respect to debts stemming from charges that exceed the amount permitted by the No Surprises Act.

CFPB Issues Bulletin to Prevent Unlawful Medical Debt Collection and Credit Reporting

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