I have had a great deal of experience with bill collectors in my career as a bankruptcy attorney. I have had them threaten to kill a client’s dog, repossess a baby for an unpaid medical bill, and have people arrested. Those are all outrageous statements, but for the most part they are idle threats and just said for shock value. Bill collectors cannot throw you in jail, cannot beat you up, cannot just take your things without going to court and suing you first.
When a friend of mine posted a link to this New York Times story about nursing homes methods to collect on bills, I was shocked. Apparently it is quite common in the world of nursing homes for them to seek legal guardianship over a patient and all of their money when they cannot pay their bills. This would then give them the authority to pay themselves out of the patient’s assets, sell homes, liquidate retirement accounts etc… in order to recoup their money.
I really really hope that this isn’t the case for anyone out there, but if it is, a bankruptcy could help to stop the process. Pass this story along to anyone you know who may need help.