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Old 01.06.2015, 02:42
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Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

Hello,

I'm being harassed by a Swiss collection agency. About two years ago, I had a doctor's visit and didn't realized that I was billed in two parts for that visit (a bill directly from the doctor and a bill from a lab for the blood testing). I paid the doctor's bill, but missed paying the 2nd bill as I had thought that the first bill had taken care of everything. Eventually, things got sorted out and I paid the lab bill as well though, with additional late fees and other fees from the lab and the confusion on all the additional fees, I ended up paying short for the lab bill by about 7 CHF. The collection agency Intrum Justitia really went after me with a vengeance. And eventually I ended up paying about 150-200 CHF in fees to them. They were constantly sending me correspondence that I had to send the money WITHIN 5 DAYS or WITHIN 10 days. I'm not accustomed to this kind of thing, and just wanted to resolve this, so I paid them their fees. But I felt really resentful about this whole thing - about how much in fees I was forced to pay over a CHF 7 underpayment. In another country, I'm fairly certain an agency would have waived their fees as long as the 7 CHF payment was made. But not Intrum Justitia. The agency was really adamant that their rule was that they couldn't waive their fees.
I thought the whole thing was now closed. But recently I just got another letter from Intrum Justitia telling me that I had not paid the doctor's bill and that I must pay the doctor's bill and a 150 CHF fee to the agency WITHIN 5 DAYS or else there will be the consequence of legal action. I am really surprised, I am sure I have paid the doctor's bill. It has been two years since that appointment though, and since then I have changed apartment, so finding my old payment receipts and records will be hard, not to mention the time it will take to locate them. I am so sick of this exploitation!!! I know that if the agency does not receive a payment within 5 days, they will use that as an excuse to increase the fee with an additional late fee and try to make me pay them another 150-250 CHF fees in addition to the 150-200 CHF fees which I have paid them already. What can I do to protect myself from this collection agency? What measures are there in Switzerland to protect people from this kind of exploitation?

Lucy
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Old 01.06.2015, 03:28
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Re: Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

Search their name on EF. They don't have any power.

If they open a poursuite against you then contest it.

You certainly don't have to pay any of their charges
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Old 01.06.2015, 11:29
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Re: Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

You have no obligation to pay any charges they bill you with. Only the costs on the bills. If you paid the original doctor's bill, send a registered letter back to them with proof of payment and inform them that you consider the matter closed and will not enter into any further correspondence with them.
Don't bother trying to phone them, email them or anything else as that will give you no proof. They're a bunch of sharks with a very bad reputation amongst consumers.
I don't know if anyone's has ever tried this, but if they continue to harass you in an unjustified manner, you should have the right to go to the police. Harassment is a criminal offence.
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Old 01.06.2015, 19:02
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Re: Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

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Search their name on EF. They don't have any power.

If they open a poursuite against you then contest it.

You certainly don't have to pay any of their charges
Yes, I googled them. There have been a number of complaints about them. Unfortunately, as I'm not familiar with the system here, I've already paid them about 200 CHF in fees. But clearly they want more. They prey on people, trying to get away with extracting as much money in fees from people as they possibly can. Why is this company allowed to do this in Switzerland?
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Old 01.06.2015, 19:31
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Re: Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

Lucy, it is worth going through the dossiers to find the proof of payment, even if this takes time.

I don't know if the following suggestions work, but you could try contacting your insurance (assuming the costs were reimbursed by them) to see if they could give you a copy or even the doctor (assuming they have this in their records). And depending on how you paid this (via e-banking? via some other method apart from the post office invoice?), you could see if there's any way you can get the proof of payment.

There's no need to pay these sharks anything.
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Old 01.06.2015, 20:05
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Re: Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

I had been divorced for 5 years when I was harassed by a debt collection agency for my ex-wife's dentist's bill in Bern!

I called the dentist and the receptionist refused to connect me to the dentist. On the collection agency demand was only an address, and a bank account number, no phone number, no e-mail.

The only way the debt collection agency would leave me alone was if the dentist contacted them and cancelled the debt collection order. I asked a friend to call the dentist, and then he agreed to cancel my "debt" and call the agency.

I am telling you this as an example. It might be a waste of time proving to the agency that you have paid the doctor. It might be simpler to contact the doctor and ask him to contact the debt collection agency.
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Old 01.06.2015, 23:43
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Re: Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

A question: would having a legal protection insurance help in cases such as these?
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Old 02.06.2015, 23:59
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Re: Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

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Lucy, it is worth going through the dossiers to find the proof of payment, even if this takes time.

I don't know if the following suggestions work, but you could try contacting your insurance (assuming the costs were reimbursed by them) to see if they could give you a copy or even the doctor (assuming they have this in their records). And depending on how you paid this (via e-banking? via some other method apart from the post office invoice?), you could see if there's any way you can get the proof of payment.

There's no need to pay these sharks anything.
If I recall correctly, I think I paid the doctor's bill through a bulletin de versement on a UBS multimat machine. If I can't find my physical payment stub, does anyone know if that would that show up recorded on my UBS monthly statement?
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Old 03.06.2015, 00:01
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Re: Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

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I had been divorced for 5 years when I was harassed by a debt collection agency for my ex-wife's dentist's bill in Bern!

I called the dentist and the receptionist refused to connect me to the dentist. On the collection agency demand was only an address, and a bank account number, no phone number, no e-mail.

The only way the debt collection agency would leave me alone was if the dentist contacted them and cancelled the debt collection order. I asked a friend to call the dentist, and then he agreed to cancel my "debt" and call the agency.

I am telling you this as an example. It might be a waste of time proving to the agency that you have paid the doctor. It might be simpler to contact the doctor and ask him to contact the debt collection agency.
Thanks, I'll try that.
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Old 03.06.2015, 00:10
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Re: Exploitative collection agency - how can I protect myself?

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You have no obligation to pay any charges they bill you with. Only the costs on the bills. If you paid the original doctor's bill, send a registered letter back to them with proof of payment and inform them that you consider the matter closed and will not enter into any further correspondence with them.
Don't bother trying to phone them, email them or anything else as that will give you no proof. They're a bunch of sharks with a very bad reputation amongst consumers.
I don't know if anyone's has ever tried this, but if they continue to harass you in an unjustified manner, you should have the right to go to the police. Harassment is a criminal offence.
So far I've seen people posting their complaints about Intrum Justitia on the internet … but is there a proper mechanism in Switzerland for filing a complaint against a company like Intrum Justitia engaging in exploitation and harassment? In the US, for example, people can file an official complaint and get some protection through the Better Business Bureau. People can't just be on their own in Switzerland and be trying to wing it in getting protection again exploiters like Intrum. Or are they?
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