If you have been contacted by a company called H&R Accounts, it’s most likely an attempt to collect a debt related to a health-care provider.
The exact identity of this company isn’t clear since it seems to be intertwined with another health-care collection firm.
Be that as it may, it’s important to take any collection account seriously. Not only will a collection account pull down your credit score—especially when the balance is unpaid—but there is real potential for the account to be converted to a judgment.
If that happens, you’ll be unable to negotiate a settlement. And the collection agency will have the legal authority to garnish your wages.
The best way to avoid that outcome is to be proactive in dealing with H&R Accounts.
About H&R Accounts
H&R Accounts, Inc. is based in Moline, Illinois, and has been in business since 1971.
However, there is little information about the company. Specifically, since it doesn’t seem to have a dedicated website.
The Better Business Bureau lists the company’s web address as http://www.avadynehealth.com, which brings you to the site for Avadyne Health.
Avadyne Health is a service dedicated to helping health-care providers resolve their early-out self-pay patient liabilities and bad debt collections.
The company claims to manage more than $3 billion in placements affecting more than 5 million patients and collecting more than $1 billion annually.
Avadyne Health’s Hospital Bad-Debt Collection Services is the collections arm of that company, and it is “100% health care focused.”
However, the company does not indicate its collections methodology. For example, it is typical with health-care collections that debtors are offered a payment plan.
The intention is to recognize the ongoing customer relationship between the debtor and the health-care provider. And to make the debt collection process as painless as possible.
But the company does not indicate if this is an option.
The Better Business Bureau has rated H&R Accounts with an A+, its highest rating on a scale of A+ to F.
The company is accredited by the BBB and has 68 complaints filed through the agency in the past three years.
A quick scan of the complaints shows virtually all have been answered, and about one-third have been resolved to the consumer’s satisfaction.
Recurrent complaints include debts placed in collection that were never originally billed to the consumer, and paid accounts showing as open collections on credit reports.
If you are overwhelmed by dealing with negative entries on your credit report,
we suggest you ask a professional credit repair company for help.
Before You Deal with H&R Accounts
Let’s start by helping you understand some basic rules when dealing with any collection agency.
1. Don’t deal with collection agencies by phone
You should be aware that recording phone calls is standard practice in the collections industry.
The main reason this is done is to help the collection agency gather additional evidence against you.
For example, if you provide additional information that connects you to the debt, or you make promises to pay and don’t follow through, the collection agency will have the entire conversation recorded.
It’s the psychological factor. People behave differently when they’re on a recorded call. And the collection agency will be sure to let you know that’s the case from the very beginning.
Knowing the call is recorded, you are more likely to be defensive and nervous, and easily surrender information in the hope of appearing cooperative.
None of that will help your case, but it will do plenty to strengthen the case the collection agency has against you.
But, fortunately, there is a way out of that trap.
2. All contact with a collection agency should be in writing
Federal law provides you the right to insist all communications with a collection agency be handled in writing. You need to assert this right during your first contact with the collection agency.
Not only will it end the advantages collection agencies have over you with phone calls. But it will also put a stop to repeated calls at inconvenient times.
Written correspondence does more than that. It enables you to keep better control of any negotiation process.
You can limit your comments in a letter to only those relevant for the outcome you wish to achieve.
Meanwhile, in a letter there’s a written record of everything the collection agency presents to you. That will make it easier for you to be both concise and deliberate in your responses.
Be sure that any letters you send to a collection agency are sent by certified mail, return receipt requested.
That will not only prove you’ve sent the letters you claim, but also that they have been received by the collection agency.
You should maintain a dedicated file folder that includes all correspondence—yours and that from the collection agency.
This will not only give you easy access to the latest developments in your negotiations, but it can also be your best defense if the collection agency chooses to bring a lawsuit against you.
It’s possible that one or more letters from the collection agency will reveal violations of federal law. And that can result in fines being imposed against the agency.
3. Never promise to make a payment unless you’re willing and able to make it
There’s nothing complicated with this rule, and it’s vitally important you observe it at all times.
Simply put, if you make a promise to send payment to a collection agency, and then fail to do so, the agency can use that as a breach of contract.
That may be the point at which they decide to convert your account from a collection to a lawsuit.
Never promise to send payment to the collection agency, or even imply that you will, unless you have the funds available and you fully intend to send them.
Also, be aware that the collection agency will most likely give you a due date for your promised payment. If it doesn’t arrive by that date, bad things can start happening.
4. Familiarize yourself with your rights under federal law
Throughout this guide, we refer to federal law.
That law is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), and it entitles you to certain legal protections when dealing with collection agencies.
You can learn these protections by reading the Debt Collection FAQs provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
You should at least familiarize yourself with the law and be prepared to recite one or two provisions.
That may be all it takes to get an over-aggressive collection agent to treat you with more respect.
Seek Legal Help in Dealing with H&R Accounts
As you can already tell, there is a lot to keep in mind when attempting to deal with a debt collector, it’s understandable if you choose not to go the do-it-yourself route.
Dealing with collection agencies requires special skill and a lot of patience. That’s why there are professional services, like credit repair companies, to do the job for you.
But if H&R Accounts threatens you with legal action, or if you believe there are serious violations in the company’s claim against you, you may need to get legal representation.
If so, Lexington Law is an excellent choice. Not only do they specialize in credit law, but they are one of the top firms in the country.
And if there are any legal violations, Lexington Law may be able to get the account eliminated completely.
Specific Strategies for H&R Accounts
Those are the basic rules for dealing with all collection agencies. Be sure you are familiar with them while we present strategies for dealing directly with H&R Accounts.
1. Demand H&R Accounts Provide a Debt Validation Letter
This is an important document in the collection process because it establishes the facts of the agency’s claim against you.
For this reason, they are required by law to provide you with a debt validation letter. Though they should provide it automatically, you may need to request a copy.
The debt validation letter will provide all the basic information about the collection account. It should list the name of the original creditor, the original amount of the debt, and the date the account first became delinquent.
It should also provide specific information that proves the obligation is yours. That will include your name, address, phone number, and a valid account number for the original debt.
When you receive the letter, make sure all information it contains is correct.
Be aware that collection accounts are often the result of either mistaken identity or an attempt to collect payment on a debt that’s already been paid. You should be on the lookout for either.
For example, make sure the information they have connecting you to the debt is accurate. If the spelling of the name is slightly different, or if it reflects an address you’ve never lived at or a phone number you’ve never had, it could be a case of mistaken identity.
Pay close attention to the information about the original debt. Is it a provider you have actually dealt with in the past? And if so, is it possible you already sent payment?
Your job will be to present evidence disputing any of the information the debt validation letter contains that may be false. If it is, the collection agency may drop the case against you.
2. Request a Goodwill Deletion
You might try this strategy if a paid collection account is still showing up on your credit report and driving down your credit score.
But success will depend on the explanation you provide for why the debt went into collection.
You’ll also need to provide a solid explanation for why the account went to collection in the first place.
If there is any extenuating circumstance, like an extended time of unemployment, a major health event, or even a natural disaster, you’ll need to include that in the letter.
Providing documentation supporting your claim will certainly help your case.
The strategy is not guaranteed to work, but it will be worth trying if there was a legitimate reason for why the account went into collection, as well as that the debt has already been paid.
3. Offer a Pay-for-Delete Agreement
You should know from the beginning that this strategy is not legally enforceable. But it may work since collection agencies don’t get paid until you make payment.
And if you’re proposing to do that quickly, the agency just might agree to the arrangement.
You’ll send H&R Accounts a pay-for-delete letter, proposing to send the full payment of the debt in exchange for the removal of the collection account from your credit reports.
If H&R Accounts agrees, ask that they confirm that agreement in writing. When you receive the letter, send in your payment.
But this is where pay-for-delete can get sketchy. The agency may accept your payment, but still not delete the account from your credit reports.
Here’s the thing; while collection agencies are supposed to report the payment of the collection account to the credit bureaus, they are not supposed to remove the account completely upon payment.
For that reason, the collection agency may use your proposal as a means of receiving full payment. But if they don’t remove the account from your credit reports, you’ll have no legal recourse against them.
4. Demand Deletion if H&R Accounts Can’t Fully Validate the Debt
Collection agencies frequently fail to provide a debt validation letter, or they send one that’s missing important information.
If so, you’ll have a basis to demand the agency drop their claim against you.
Even if they don’t, you can file a dispute with the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
They’ll investigate within 30 days of your dispute, and if H&R Accounts fails to provide a debt validation letter or it comes back incomplete, the credit bureaus will remove the collection account from your credit reports.
But even if they do, the collection agency may continue to pursue collection efforts against you. If that happens, you may need to get legal representation.
5. Offer to Settle the Debt for Less Than the Full Amount
If your primary goal is to get the collection account out of your life, you may be able to do so by settling for less than the full amount owed. This frequently happens with collection accounts.
You’ll send H&R Accounts a letter proposing to settle the debt for some amount well below the full balance. We recommend you start at something less than half.
If H&R Accounts will consider the arrangement, they’ll counteroffer with a higher number.
You continue to negotiate with the debt collector until you reach a satisfactory settlement amount for both parties.
If that happens, insist H&R Accounts send you a letter confirming your agreement.
It must specifically state that they are accepting a reduced amount in full satisfaction of the debt, that they’ll end collection activities against you, and that they’ll report the account as paid with all three major credit bureaus.
If you send payment before their letter arrives, they may accept your money, but continue to pursue you for the balance of the debt.
It’s an example of how collection agencies don’t always play fair.