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Court Says Californians Can Sue Debt Collectors For Releasing Medical Information


The state Supreme Court has given a boost to consumer privacy. It ruled Californians can sue collection agencies and doctors for releasing confidential medical records to credit reporting agencies.

— The state Supreme Court says Californians can sue debt collectors and doctors who release personal medical records to credit agencies. The ruling reverses an appellate court decision.

The decision could affect thousands of Californians.

The case involved a Los Angeles attorney who filed a damage suit against a debt collector. The agency was trying to collect on a $600 dental treatment the man said he never received.

The man said the debt collector repeatedly released his dental charts and treatment records to credit reporting agencies.

"That's wrong", said Beth Givens. She directs San Diego's non-profit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

"All they need to have is that a debt is owed, and to whom that debt is owed," Givens continued. "But having the medical records, that's beyond the pale. It really is a strong arm tactic."

The lawyer for the collection agency in the case disagreed, and said he may appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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