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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

AG Donovan Resolves Deceptive Debt Collection Letter Impacting 1,500 Vermonters

March 25, 2022

The Attorney General’s Office today announced the resolution of a deceptive debt collection issue with a Manchester business that impacted over 1,500 Vermonters. On August 15, 2021, Taconic Orthopaedics, P.C.—also called “Taconic Spine”—sent a threatening debt collection letter to Vermont patients with overdue accounts. The letter threatened that, if the patients failed to pay, Taconic Spine could sue them. That threat was deceptive. Under Vermont law, Taconic Spine’s time for suing many of these patients for overdue accounts had already legally expired.

The Attorney General’s Office began its investigation into Taconic Spine after receiving complaints from the Consumer Assistance Program and the Office of the Health Care Advocate at Vermont Legal Aid. In 2021, health/medical concerns were among the top 10 consumer complaints reported by Vermonters to the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program.

Under the terms of the settlement, Taconic Spine is now required to use a professional debt collection agency in future debt collection efforts. The business is barred from collecting certain old debt from patients. It is also barred from attempting to collect debt from patients with Medicaid coverage for the underlying service. Finally, it is required to pay the State of Vermont a penalty of $10,000, with $5,000 suspended for the company’s cooperation with the Attorney General’s investigation. Taconic Spine’s cooperation included immediately sending a letter to all of its patients who received the debt collection letter rescinding that letter and clarifying the patient’s obligations.

If you are concerned about a debt collection call or letter that you received, contact the Consumer Assistance Program at 1-800-649-2424 or file a complaint at ago.vermont.gov/cap/.

A copy of the settlement is available here.

 

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Last modified: March 25, 2022