Fidelity National Collections, commonly referred to as Fidelity Collections, is a collection agency for the healthcare field.
Unfortunately, with the rise in out-of-pocket responsibility on health insurance plans, these kinds of collections are becoming more common.
Even if you have health insurance, it’s possible you’ll still owe thousands of dollars after medical claims are paid.
The fact that Fidelity Collections represents healthcare clients is both an advantage and disadvantage.
The downside is that debt amounts may be substantial. It’s not unusual for a health insurance policy to require total out-of-pocket responsibility amounting to thousands of dollars.
The out-of-pocket burden repeats annually which complicates things even further.
If you have multiple major medical events in two or more years, you may owe full out-of-pocket maximums for each year.
About Fidelity Collections
Though the company typically goes by Fidelity Collections, the actual legal name is Fidelity National Collections.
The company was founded in 1986, and is based in Alliance, Ohio.
The company describes itself as a full-service medical collection agency, making it clear their business is concentrated in the healthcare field.
One advantage is that while their primary goal is to seek full payment for outstanding debts, they do indicate a willingness to accept payment arrangements.
This can be a major advantage on a large debt, as medical debts often are.
It’s unclear whether those payment arrangements are set up for medical providers by Fidelity National Collections, or if they are arranged subsequent to the inability to collect debts by the original creditor.
Either way, it will certainly be worth the effort to request a payment arrangement on a large debt if you’re unable to make full payment.
Unfortunately, the Better Business Bureau has not rated Fidelity Collections, nor is the company BBB accredited.
As such, no complaints have been filed against Fidelity Collections by consumers through the agency.
This is despite the fact that the BBB acknowledges that Fidelity Collections has been in business since 1986.
If you are overwhelmed by dealing with negative entries on your credit report,
we suggest you ask a professional credit repair company for help.
How Can Fidelity Collections Affect My Credit?
The good news is that health insurance-related collection agencies do tend to be more accommodating than those collecting for other debts.
Consumers typically have ongoing relationships with healthcare providers.
So the provider is likely to insist on a more consumer-friendly approach from a collection agency that represents them.
That said, don’t take the fact that Fidelity Collections represents healthcare companies as a reason to ignore the debt.
Just like any other type of collection, a medical debt can turn into a court judgment, ultimately forcing you to pay the full amount of the debt.
The collection agency may even garnish your wages to make it happen.
Before You Deal with Fidelity Collections
Before diving into specific strategies for dealing with Fidelity Collections, let’s start by reviewing some basic rules that apply when dealing with any collection agency.
1. Don’t deal with collection agencies by phone
Collection agencies love to deal with consumers by phone.
Not only is it quick, but it opens the possibility of repeated contacts in a short space of time.
In addition, it’s an excellent opportunity for a skill collection agent to squeeze more information out of a consumer, further connecting him or her to a debt.
Collection agencies also record phone conversations, which is a situation you will be made aware of at the beginning of the call.
There’s little doubt your behavior and responses to the collection agent will be different when a call is being recorded.
You may find yourself being both panicked and willing to surrender more information just because you know you’re being recorded.
All those same reasons are why you should want to avoid phone contact with a collection agency.
Fortunately, under federal law, you have a right to insist that all communication with a collection agency be handled by written correspondence.
That will eliminate the phone calls. You must make this demand on the collection agency during one of your first contacts with the company.
Don’t be intimidated by making this demand either. It’s your legal right, and the collection agency must respect it.
2. All contact with a collection agency should be in writing
This is the method of communication you must insist the collection agency use in contacting you.
It essentially reverses all the benefits that collection agencies enjoy with phone calls and gives you the upper hand.
First, it’s much more difficult for a collection agency to bombard you with letters than it is to use the same strategy with phone calls.
Second, the collection agency will be much better behaved in written correspondence than they may be in phone calls.
After all, everything they say will be a matter of written record, which will force them to behave better.
In your own correspondence with the collection agency, you should make it a point to provide as little information as possible.
All while regularly demanding additional information from the collection agency.
Keep your letters short and to the point, and avoid any excessive language that may work against you.
All correspondence should be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested. By doing so, you’ll have proof that you both sent your letters to the collection agency, and that they received them.
Written correspondence has another major advantage. You’ll be able to keep all correspondence in a central file that you can access at any time.
Make sure they’re organized; arrange them in date order, with your letters attached to theirs.
That will make it easier for you to know what’s going on at all points during the collection process, and to be able to get that information on short notice.
3. Never promise to make a payment unless you’re willing and able to make it
This is a simple concept that’s absolutely essential when dealing with any collection agency.
Debtors will often hint or promise to send payment to a collection agency in the hope of making the collection agent go away.
Our recommendation is that you avoid this practice at all costs.
Never make a promise to send payment, or even imply that you might, unless you have the funds available and intend to send them to the collection agency.
If you make a promise to pay, then fail to send the funds, your broken promise can be considered a breach of contract.
That breach will make it easier for the collection agency to convert your collection account into a lawsuit.
4. Familiarize yourself with your rights under federal law
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) provides consumers with certain protections from collection agency abuses.
You can learn these protections by reading the Debt Collection FAQs provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Just knowing your rights under federal law may give you the upper hand when a collection agency starts getting ugly.
Get Legal Help in Dealing with Fidelity Collections
If you’re finding the collections process to be overwhelming, or if you’re not making progress in dealing with Fidelity Collections on your own, you may need to get legal representation.
This will be an absolute requirement if the collection agency brings a lawsuit against you to pursue a judgment.
If you need legal representation, we recommend Lexington Law.
As one of the largest and most successful credit law firms in the country, they’ll not only be able to represent you in a lawsuit, but they may be able to get a collection account dropped based on violations of federal law.
Specific Strategies for Dealing with Fidelity National Collections
Please keep the above strategies in mind as you attempt to negotiate your collection with Fidelity Collections.
Now let’s take a look at the specific strategies you can use to deal with that particular collection agency.
1. Demand Fidelity Collections Provide a Debt Validation Letter
Demanding a debt validation letter is the first step in dealing with any collection agency.
Fidelity Collections may provide this early in the process. But it’s equally likely you’ll need to request it.
If so, make the request as soon as possible.
A debt validation letter provides the details of the collection account.
This includes the specific information about the debt itself.
For example, it should include the name of the original creditor, the date the account first went into collection, among other facts.
It must also provide conclusive evidence that you are the person responsible for the debt.
Once you receive this letter from Fidelity Collections, study it carefully.
You should be looking for any information that is inconsistent with what you know to be true.
For example, be certain the original creditor—presumably a healthcare provider—is someone you obtained services from in the past.
Also, see if you can match the date and dollar amount of the obligation to a payment you may already have made.
Collection accounts are often the result of misapplied payments, and you should be able to reverse the account if you can provide evidence of prior payment.
Carefully examine the information that connects you with the debt.
It may prove to be a case of mistaken identity, and you should be able to have the account dropped by proving you aren’t the person they’re looking for.
2. Request a Goodwill Deletion
This strategy is recommended if you’ve already paid a debt—or plan to pay in full now—and are primarily concerned with removing the collection account from your credit report.
You’ll send Fidelity Collections a goodwill letter in which you request deletion of the collection account from your credit reports, along with a convincing explanation that the account was the result of circumstances beyond your control.
This is where you’ll need to be persuasive. You’ll need to be able to explain that the collection occurred because of a major event that disrupted your life.
Think in terms of the death of a loved one, a major medical event, a divorce, a prolonged time of unemployment, a natural disaster, or anything similar.
If you can also include documentation supporting your claim, you’re more likely to get favorable consideration.
It’s not guaranteed to work, but it’s certainly worth a try.
3. Offer a Pay-for-Delete Agreement
This strategy is truly hit-or-miss. The collection agency may go for it in an attempt to collect full payment quickly.
But it can just as easily blow up for reasons we’ll explain in a moment.
You’ll send Fidelity Collections a pay-for-delete letter, in which you’ll propose making full payment on the debt in exchange for the agency removing the collection account from your credit reports.
If they’re willing, request confirmation in writing.
But this is where pay-for-delete arrangements can crash and burn.
Pay-for-delete arrangements are not legally enforceable.
It’s possible the collection agency will agree to the arrangement, confirm that agreement in writing, accept your payment, and then fail to remove the collection accounts from your credit report.
If that happens, you have no recourse. Technically speaking, collection agencies are not permitted to remove collection accounts from credit reports after receiving payments.
Use this strategy at your own risk.
4. Demand Deletion if Fidelity Collections Can’t Fully Validate the Debt
In probably more than half of the collection cases, either the collection agency fails to provide a debt validation letter, or they provide one that’s missing important information.
Since this is a violation of federal law, they are required to drop the collection effort against you and remove the account from your credit reports.
But as you might guess, that’s not the way it always works.
Still, if Fidelity Collections fails to fully validate the account, or even to provide you with a debt validation letter, you can open a dispute with the three credit bureaus.
By law, the credit bureaus are obligated to investigate your dispute.
If Fidelity Collections can’t fully validate the debt for the credit bureaus, the bureaus will delete the collection account from your credit reports.
But even if they do, don’t expect the collection agency to admit defeat.
Even without proper debt validation, it’s very likely they’ll continue to pursue collection actions against you.
If they do, we recommend getting legal representation to challenge the claim based on violations of federal law.
5. Settle the Debt for Less than the Full Amount Owed
This strategy represents something of a compromise.
It won’t remove the collection account from your credit reports, but it will enable you to close out the account, and for a lot less money than the collection agency wants to collect from you.
You’ll send Fidelity Collections a letter proposing to settle the debt for less than the full amount.
Your initial offer should be no more than 50% of the full amount, and preferably less.
The company may signal their willingness by countering with a higher settlement figure.
After that, you’ll go back and forth until you agree on an amount.
Once you do, you must demand Fidelity Collections provide you with a letter agreeing to the terms of the settlement. That includes the following:
- That they will agree to accept the reduce payment in full satisfaction of the debt, and
- They’ll end their collection actions against you, and
- The account will be reported to the three credit bureaus as fully paid.
Don’t send payment until you receive this letter and they’ve agreed to each of the above terms in writing.
If you send payment before you receive the letter, the agency may accept your check as a partial payment toward the full amount of the debt, then pursue you for the balance.