Debt Collection, Credit Reporting Key Areas of CFPB Report on Issues for Servicmembers and Their Families

Issues with billing inaccuracies and “aggressive” tactics used by debt collectors to recover “allegedly unpaid” medical debts received top billing in a press release yesterday that was issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announcing that it had published its annual report on the top financial concerns facing servicemembers and veterans.

After debt collection issues, the CFPB turned to “reported failures” by credit reporting agencies to help resolve inaccuracies and other credit reporting issues. About 60$ of the 42,000 complaints submitted by servicemembers, veterans, and members of military families were related to credit reporting and debt collection, according to the CFPB.

Among the recommendations made in the report were to collect more data regarding the scope and impact of medical debt on servicemembers, and that medical providers and third-party billing companies “should have adequate systems in place to serve servicemembers,” including knowledge of programs such as TRICARE and the Veterans Choice Program. The most common collection-related complaint that servicemembers and their families file with respect to medical debts are in relation to debts that the individuals say they do not owe.

The report includes excerpts from complaints filed by members of the military and their families and were used to illustrate the different problems highlighted by the CFPB. One common issue is that providers failed to collect enough information at the time of service to submit TRICARE claims, did not associate their coverage with their account, or failed to submit TRICARE claims for processing.

“Errors on credit reports can jeopardize servicemembers’ financial readiness, and ultimately, their ability to protect our nation,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra in a statement. “No servicemember, veteran, or military family should be subject to credit reporting rumors and innuendo, nor should they feel coerced to pay a bill they do not owe.”

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