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How To Deal With Wakefield & Associates

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In a Nutshell

Wakefield & Associates is a prolific debt collector in the United States that specializes in collecting medical debts. If Wakefield & Associates contacts you, the first thing you should do is validate the debt. This article explains the validation process and discusses your available options, like filing a dispute, negotiating a debt settlement, or ignoring the debt (which isn’t recommended).

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Jonathan Petts
Updated April 17, 2024


What Is Wakefield & Associates?

According to their website, Wakefield & Associates was founded in 1946. They’re based in Aurora, Colorado, but have offices in multiple states. Two things make Wakefield & Associates a somewhat atypical debt collection agency.

First, their primary business function is medical billing services. They collect past-due medical bills and also help medical providers in various parts of the revenue cycle, including invoice processing, insurance claims, and accounts receivable.

Second, due to their focus on healthcare services, Wakefield & Associates exclusively collects on outstanding medical debts, both those that are still owned by the original creditor (such as a hospital) and those purchased from clients. To facilitate this collection process, Wakefield & Associates has an online portal for patients.

Why Is Wakefield & Associates Contacting Me?

If Wakefield & Associates is calling you or sending you letters, they are likely attempting to collect on a past-due medical bill from healthcare services you received. They are either collecting this debt on behalf of their healthcare client (the original creditor) or they purchased the debt from one of their clients. In the latter situation, Wakefield & Associates now owns the debt and is trying to recover it from you.

Is Wakefield & Associates Legit? 

Yes, Wakefield & Associates is legitimate, however many consumers have filed complaints against them. The Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) profile page for Wakefield & Associates reflects a 1.19 rating (out of five stars) and more than 900 complaints filed within the past three years. A review of the Consumer Complaint Database from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) website shows more than 2,500 complaints. 

Many of the issues filed with the BBB or CFPB relate to claims that Wakefield & Associates tried to collect an incorrect amount of debt or debt not owed. Some consumers expressed that Wakefield & Associates made improper threats about how not paying the debt would amount to a crime.

Note to reader: These reviews and complaints highlight relevant issues, but they may not represent all consumers’ experiences.

If true, many of these allegations violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This is a federal law that prohibits third-party debt collectors from harassing, misleading, or deceiving individuals during the debt collection process. If you feel that Wakefield & Associates has violated the FDCPA, you can report the behavior to the CFPB and even sue them.

One final note: Even though Wakefield & Associates is a legitimate debt collection service, scammers can still use their name to commit identity theft. This is another reason why it’s important to validate the debt (more on this below) and ask for additional information if someone claims to be from Wakefield & Associates. To learn more about how to spot a scam, read Upsolve’s Guide to Avoid Debt Collector Scams

Do I Have To Pay Wakefield & Associates? 

You might have to pay Wakefield & Associates, but before you do, you should first confirm the debt is legitimate and that it’s yours. Debt collectors tend to contact as many people as possible because they know that the majority of people won’t pay their entire balance (if anything at all). Managing a large volume of collections accounts can easily lead to mistakes, like trying to collect debts that don’t exist or contacting the wrong people.

If Wakefield & Associates can’t prove the debt is yours, then you don’t need to pay them, and you can take action to ensure that they stop contacting you. If they can prove you owe the debt and they own the debt, then you have some choices to make on what your next steps will be. 

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Step 1: Send a Debt Verification Letter 

Before or within five days of when Wakefield & Associates initially contacts you, they are legally obligated to send you a debt validation letter. If you haven’t gotten one, you can send them a debt verification letter

Debt Validation Vs. Debt Verification Letters

After getting the debt validation letter or response to your debt verification letter, you have 30 days to dispute the debt if you disagree with it (more on this below). If you file a dispute, the debt collection company must stop trying to collect the debt until the dispute gets resolved.

If Wakefield & Associates cannot verify the debt, you shouldn’t have to pay it. In this situation, you should check your credit score, review your credit report, and report any errors.

If Wakefield & Associates does verify the debt, what you do next depends on whether you agree with the collection account amount and whether you want to negotiate a debt settlement. 

Step 2: Decide What To Do Next  

After Wakefield & Associates verifies the debt, you typically have three options: disputing the debt, negotiating a debt settlement, or ignoring the debt.

Option 1: Dispute the Debt 

If you disagree with any aspect of the debt, you have the right to dispute the debt. During this process, it’s a good idea to check your credit report. If there’s a mistake, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to dispute the error. You can do so by sending a 609 letter to credit bureaus like Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.

Option 2: Negotiate the Debt and Make a Settlement Offer 

In a perfect world, you would take care of your debt by paying it off in full. However, if you’re like most people contacted by Wakefield & Associates, this isn’t financially possible. But what might be possible is partially paying off the debt with a negotiated debt settlement.

Many debt collectors will settle a debt for as little as 50 cents on the dollar. This is because they purchase debts for a fraction of the original amount owed or receive a percentage fee for any money recovered. In other words, they still make a healthy profit even if they don’t recover the full amount of what you owe.

To start the negotiation process, offer to pay 25%–30% of the full amount due. After some back-and-forth, Wakefield & Associates might agree on an amount between 40% and 60%. To learn more about the negotiation process, read Upsolve’s Guide to Beating Wakefield & Associates.

Can You Negotiate Every Past-Due Debt?

You can’t negotiate every past-due debt, but you can negotiate most past-due consumer debts like credit cards, medical bills, payday loans, and personal loans. Federal tax debts are also negotiable, but normally through one of the IRS’ special programs.

Home mortgages and car loans can’t usually be negotiated because they’re debts that use the car or home as collateral in case of a default. Federal student loans are also not usually negotiable, although student forgiveness programs are available if you’re struggling with student loan debt.

While ignoring the debt is technically an option, it’s not in your best interest. It has several consequences, including added stress and anxiety about money. 

What Happens if I Ignore Wakefield & Associates?

If you choose to ignore Wakefield & Associates, it will likely make your money problems worse. For example, it could:

  • Increase the size of the debt due to interest, fees, and legal costs

  • Lower your credit score

  • Trigger a potential lawsuit from Wakefield & Associates, which could lead to property levies and wage garnishments

There’s also the fact that debt collectors don’t easily give up. They expect consumers to ignore them and are usually willing to take additional measures to collect the debt within the limits of the law.

It can be tempting to ignore the debt collector. While unpaid debts can get removed from credit reports after seven years, the debt still exists and collection efforts (including a possible debt collection lawsuit) can still occur.

You might also hope that you can ignore the debt so the statute of limitations expires. The problem with this strategy is that it takes a long time for this to happen, and until it does, Wakefield & Associates can sue you at any time. Even if the statute of limitations on the debt has expired, a debt collector might still try to sue you (even though they shouldn’t).

Ignoring the debt isn’t the best approach, but don’t lose hope. Information is power, and the more you know your rights, the more difficult it makes Wakefield & Associates to collect money from you.

Can Wakefield & Associates Sue Me? 

In most states, debt buyers can sue patients to collect on unpaid medical bills. When deciding whether to file suit, Wakefield & Associates considers various factors, such as:

  • The amount of the debt

  • Whether the statute of limitations bars legal action

  • If they can recover court costs, attorney fees, and interest

  • Applicable law concerning creditor rights and contracts

  • The ease with which Wakefield & Associates can seize your property and garnish your wages if they win the lawsuit

  • How expensive it’ll be to file a complaint in court

  • Whether you have any other debts 

If Wakefield & Associates sues you, you can expect them to serve you a court summons and complaint at home, at work, or by mail. You want to respond to the complaint to avoid a default judgment.

When crafting your response to the complaint, it might help to have an attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney or prefer to handle the case yourself, read Upsolve’s Guide to Beating Wakefield & Associates.

Let’s Summarize…

If you receive a phone call or letter from Wakefield & Associates, it most likely means you have an unpaid medical bill. That being said, mistakes are possible and scammers have been known to use the names of debt collectors to attempt identity theft. This is why it is crucial to ask questions and validate the debt. Once you know the debt is legit, you can decide whether to dispute it or negotiate a debt settlement.



Written By:

The Upsolve Team

Upsolve is fortunate to have a remarkable team of bankruptcy attorneys, as well as finance and consumer rights professionals, as contributing writers to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful to everyone.

Jonathan Petts

LinkedIn

Jonathan Petts has over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy and is co-founder and CEO of Upsolve. Attorney Petts has an LLM in Bankruptcy from St. John's University, clerked for two federal bankruptcy judges, and worked at two top New York City law firms specializing in bankrupt... read more about Jonathan Petts

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