In Missouri, medical debt falls under the same classification as consumer debt. Missouri does not have its own debt collection law but Missouri residents are protected from unfair debt collection practices by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. This is federal legislation protecting all residents in the U.S.A. from harassment, abuse and unscrupulous debt collection.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are not allowed to call a person before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. unless given permission to do so. Debt collectors are also not allowed to contact a person at their place of work if the person tells them not to. This applies to all types of consumer debt including medical bills.
Debt collectors are not allowed to share a person's debt situation with others. They are allowed to contact other people in attempts to locate a person but they are not allowed to state the reason. If they contact others by mail they must remove all company information indicating they are a debt collection agency.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors are prohibited from using any form of abuse or harassment when attempting to collect a debt. They are not allowed to call repeatedly to intimidate a person into paying. They also may not use abusive or profane language. It is also illegal for them to threaten any form of violence. Any person that experiences this form of behavior from a debt collector should contact their local police and the Federal Trade Commission.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors may attempt to contact a person for payment of a medical bill. However, if the person wishes no further contact with the debt collector then they need to put the request in writing. Once the debt collection company receives this request then they must cease contact. The letter can also instruct the debt collection agency to contact a legal representative. They must obey this request once it has been received.
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, collectors are not allowed to misrepresent themselves or any part of the debt. Debt collectors cannot say they are law enforcement officials unless they are. They cannot misrepresent the amount owed. They cannot threaten a person with prison or sale of their house unless that is a possibility. They also cannot threaten legal action unless the collection agency has the right to sue.
Regina Hamilton has been writing off and on since leaving college in 1992. Her experience includes content writing for a legal Web site but has recently moved on into other areas including eHow, Garden Guides and Answerbag. Hamilton has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Ohio State University.