- Personal Finance
GE Care Credit Card Scam? Another Horror Story and What You Can Do
All in The Family!
GE Care Credit has thousands of complaints filed against them for deceptive credit practices and possible fraud. They are being investigated throughout the country. Last night, my adult son told me that his credit union informed him that he has a negative on his credit report and that he needed to get a copy of his report so he could figure out what it was. I helped him get a free credit report through www.AnnualCreditReport.com and the nightmare began. There it was! The adverse account was from GE Care Credit. Yes, the one I had just written about.
How Can One Tooth Cost $3000.00 After Insurance?
In 2008, my son went to the dentist because he had a toothache. He has a dental PPO and assumed his coverage was more than adequate. Because I am well-versed in billing and coding with both medical and dental procedures (my field for over 30 years), I told him to get me a copy of the services that were to be provided and I would let him know what his cost would be, so that he could make an informed decision. I also like to make sure that people I love are not overcharged for dental services. Because he is an adult, he did not do as I asked. He took care of it himself. The dentist did a root canal on one tooth. He did say something about it costing a lot of money, but that was the last I heard of it. I had offered to help. He declined the offer and I respect that.
So last night, two years after the fact, he told me the story. He had gone to the dentist and the dental assistant was really good looking. He was more interested in the dental assistant than in the bill or what he was being charged for. Apparently, they told him that his insurance covered very little of the necessary dental work, so he applied for and received their recommended dental credit card. His bill, after the insurance had paid, was close to $3000.00. He was not put under- he did not receive nitrous oxide, so there seems to be nothing extraordinary about the treatment he received. He was unhappy with the interest rate he was being charged by GE Care Credit, so in 2009, he went to his credit union and the manager of the credit union called GE Care Credit, got he pay off amount and the credit union sent them a paid in full check. He never received another statement from GE Care Credit.
The Credit Report and the Letters of Protest
The credit report showed GE Care Credit as the original creditor. They sold this account in February of 2010 to a collection agency. The balance as of August 2010 is $322.00. The reporting collection agency has never sent him a statement. So, again, I told him that I would help him solve this problem.
Between the time of the payoff amount request and GE Care Credit receiving the payoff, there was an interest charge of roughly 57 CENTS. The 57 CENTS went unpaid because he never knew about it, so a late payment fee was added to the account and interest on top of that. Continued late payment charges accrued and so did interest, until finally 57 CENTS magically becomes $322.00.
Questionable practices? Possible fraud? We will see. This morning I composed a letter to the collection agency questioning the validity of the account, as well as proof that this amount is actually owed. A copy of the letter is being sent to the Attorney General of our State, as well as the Insurance Commissioner and the Federal Trade Commission.
I told my son that he is to call the dentist's office and request an itemized statement with the dental codes that were billed to the insurance company.
There are two distinct issues: possible overcharges and innacurate billing by the dentist and credit card thievery. We will take care of both and this may well become one of the pieces of evidence used by the State of California in possible fraud charges that may be filed against GE Care Credit.
Why Don't They Listen to Me?
My kids are all grown now and they very rarely like or need my interference. They usually come to me after the fact, if and when they feel that I might be of some help. They are all quite capable of handling their own lives and they do a great job! I know that they think I walked with the dinosaurs, but sometimes I can help. When they were teenagers and they had trouble with a teacher or some school administrator, they would say, "We need to settle this ourselves, because if we don't, my mom will get involved and then you will be really sorry!" In this particular instance, if the dental assistant had only not been so good looking, my son might have thought it through and stayed away from the dental credit card. Men!
What to Do if You Are Having a Similar Problem?
If you have ever had a dental credit card from GE Care Credit or any other credit account that you felt uncomfortable with and you know you have paid it off, get your free annual credit report from www.AnnualCreditReport.com. This is the only website that is authorized by the federal government to give you one free credit report per year. There are other sites that offer free credit reports, but they usually require that you sign up for some service that costs you money.
If you find an adverse account listed for which you have no information or you have an account listed that should reflect zero, but doesn't, immediately send the company a letter, preferably certified (for proof that you sent it) and dispute the amount they say is owed and delinquent. Any company that dings your credit is required by law to give you evidence that the debt is owed. The law states that they must notify you by mail. Granted, it is kind of embarrassing to send a bill for 57 cents and it can be so much more lucrative to charge you late charges and then compound those late charges and then charge interest on those late charges! What a great way to make money!
In addition, send a copy of this letter to the Attorney General of your state asking for an investigation into the company's credit practices. If the account is held by a collection agency, there are laws that they must comply with. Collection agencies fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission, so also send a copy of your dispute to them. If the charges that you dispute have anything to do with medical or dental care and you had medical insurance or dental insurance that may or may not have been billed or may not have been billed correctly, send a copy to the Insurance Commissioner of your state. In the meantime, call the original merchant, in this case the dentist and get a copy of the original bill. If it is a medical or dental bill, ask for the codes used to bill and call your insurance company to get an explanation. If the services were never provided or if the codes used for billing are inaccurate, let your insurance company know what is going on. They will help you. If you still feel that you need additional help and this was a medical or dental bill, contact a Patient Advocate for help. There are some that provide free services. Others, who often do not work for a charitable foundation, will charge a nominal fee for their services.
The best way to stop this madness before it starts is to ask for help before you go to the doctor or dentist. If you know someone or are related to someone and this is their field of expertise, request their help. Don't be embarrassed! It takes many years to learn the ins and outs of the field and as a lay person, you are not expected to know these things.