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This post can help you get ARS off your case and your credit history. You’ll have some work to do — some letters to write and negotiation tactics to learn — but your hard work and tenacity will pay off. If you get ARS, or any other debt collector, out of the way, you can improve your credit score. Read on to learn what ARS does and to find out how to deal with this collection agency and repair your credit score.

Table of contents

  • Why does ARS appear on my credit report?
  • How does ARS work?
  • Steps to remove ARS from your credit report
  • How to deal with ARS
  • FAQs about ARS
  • How to contact ARS

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Why does ARS appear on my credit report?

ARS is a third-party debt collection agency that buys old debt from creditors, primarily hospitals and medical clinics. ARS pays lower than face value for the debts and then collects on the accounts to make money. ARS shows up on your credit report as Account Resolution Services or ARS, but ARS could also list the business name of the original creditor.

ARS is smaller and less well-known than other collection agencies, but it is just as persistent, so take the debt seriously. ARS is a subsidiary of Healthcare Revenue Recovery Group, LLC, and the ARS headquarters are in Sunrise, Florida.

How does ARS work?

ARS makes money by buying old debts from hospitals. If you owe your local hospital money and don’t pay, the hospital's billing department can sell your debt to ARS. It will probably only pay a fraction of the face value. For example, ARS may pay $800 for a hospital debt of $10,000.

Even if you pay half your $10,000 bill, ARS will clear thousands of dollars from the transaction. This motivates the agency to make you pay. The hospital gives ARS your contact information, and ARS is not afraid to use it. It may call, text or email you or even send you letters.

How to remove ARS from your credit report

If ARS claims you owe money, the repercussions could be worse than them contacting you constantly. A collections agency account can wreak havoc on your credit score. For many years, it will be very difficult for you to get loan approvals at a decent interest rate if you don’t take action to remove ARS from your credit history as soon as possible. Fortunately, it is possible for you to remove a debt collection agency from your credit report, regardless of whether you owe the money.

There are three things you can try:

  • Send ARS a debt validation letter
  • Negotiate to pay part of your debt
  • Use a professional credit repair company

1. Send ARS a debt validation letter

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) requires debt collection agencies to prove you owe money if you ask for validation within the first 30 days. Sometimes, the original company doesn’t give collection agencies substantial documentation when they purchase your debt. In other cases, a company may assign you a debt in error. A basic validation letter can clear things up and result in the ARS canceling the debt and removing it from your credit report.

The key to this strategy is submitting the letter within 30 days of your initial contact with ARS. If you wait longer than a month, you no longer have this consumer right. If that is the case, read on for additional strategies you can try.

2. Negotiate to pay part of your debt

If the debt is legitimate and the previous step doesn’t work, it’s time to negotiate with ARS. Because ARS can buy your debt for a lot less than you actually owe, any amount you pay will pad its pockets, you can use this to your advantage. You can start by offering to pay a third of what you owe. ARS may refuse but will probably make a counteroffer.

You could wind up only paying about half of what you owe and still settle the debt. Regardless of the amount you decide on, ensure that the collection agency removes ARS from your credit report with the three major credit bureaus as part of the deal. Agree to pay the debt in exchange for it removing all negative items from your credit history.

You should negotiate and get your agreement in writing before paying a penny. If you make an agreement over the phone and then pay immediately, ARS may forget its promise to remove the collection account from your credit history. Once you have a written agreement, you can make your payments to ARS by reaching out to an agent or using the online payment portal: arspayment.com.

If the settlement of your account isn’t apparent on your credit report after 30 days, write another letter to ensure ARS upholds its end of the agreement. Use the written agreement as proof of the deal.

3. Use a professional credit repair company

If you dread the thought of writing debt validation letters and negotiating payments with debt collection representatives, you have another option. Credit repair companies make disputing debts, negotiating with creditors and fixing your credit score a breeze. They’re also likely to get results quicker than if you do it yourself.

If you miss a medical bill somewhere along the line, your medical debt doesn’t have to destroy your credit score for the next decade. With the steps above and a reliable credit repair company ready to go to bat for you, you can put an end to calls from ARS and remove them from your credit report.

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How to deal with ARS

Hundreds of people have filed complaints against ARS with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The BBB has given the agency an F rating. Several complaints report the company’s failure to respond to debt validation requests, and others cite faulty reporting. The FDCPA protects consumers from these types of issues and other disrespectful practices, such as calling you outside of business hours.

It’s important to make ARS aware that you know your consumer rights under the FDCPA and to document all your interactions in writing. When you correspond in writing, you reduce the risk of a miscommunication between you and the agency and help protect yourself from legal action. This should also stop the collection agency from harassing you over the phone.

Very few collections agencies will break the law when they know you're paying attention. What they will do is imply negative consequences in the hope that your fear will prompt you to pay. It's important to understand what ARS can and can't do:

What ARS can legally do

ARS can contact you using the contact information from your original medical debt records. If you have a work number on file, the ARS can call you on that number, or on any other number it has, unless you ask it to stop. The FDCPA gives you the right to make this request and requires ARS to follow your wishes.

ARS can send you letters in sealed envelopes. It can also take legal action against you, and a judge can garnish your wages to compensate ARS. However, the agency can’t garnish your Social Security income, disability or military benefits, or your disaster relief assistance. If you deal with ARS immediately, you can avoid any possibility of a wage garnishment.

What ARS cannot legally do

ARS doesn’t have a legal right to threaten you with a lawsuit or incarceration or to abuse you in any way. This kind of behavior qualifies as harassment. In addition, agents can’t contact your family, friends or employer regarding your debt.

ARS can't misidentify itself as a law firm or its representatives as law enforcement officials or government agents. It can't prosecute you in the criminal justice system, as your debt is a civil matter. It can't give the credit bureaus false information about your accounts.

Best practices for dealing with ARS

Consider the following best practices when you deal with ARS:

  • Write checks: They're old school, but they provide a paper trail. If you don't have checks, you can get a money order at a grocery store or local post office. Be sure to keep your own copy. If you pay online, make sure it's only after you receive a written agreement from ARS.
  • Negotiate: ARS wants to make money. If you can pay half of what you owe, propose this as a solution to your debt. Make the payment contingent upon ARS removing negative items from all three credit reporting bureaus.
  • Give simple answers: You don't have to explain yourself to a debt collector. If you can't afford to make the payment they request, just say so. There's no need to justify your personal financial situation to anyone.
  • Don't make it worse: For some consumers, a single phone call from ARS or another debt collection agency instills panic. They want to resolve the account at any cost. They may transfer the debt onto a high-interest credit card or make another bad financial decision just to make the debt go away. You should avoid this temptation.

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FAQs about ARS

The following are common questions relating to ARS and other debt collection agencies:

Can ARS sue me?

Yes; ARS can sue you in a civil court. For smaller accounts, the cost of going to court usually outweighs the profit from collecting on an account, so they only take very few cases before a judge. Each state sets a statute of limitations on medical debt. If your debt falls outside your state's statute, ARS can sue you, but a judge will dismiss the case.

Can the CFPB help?

Yes; the CFPB exists to enforce laws such as the FDCPA. You can complain to the CFPB if you think ARS has violated the law.

Will ARS report to all three credit bureaus?

Yes; ARS reports to TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Collectively, these bureaus affect your FICO score, which most lenders — especially mortgage lenders — refer to when you apply for a loan.

Can ARS put a lien on my house?

Yes; ARS can put a lien on your house, but they are unlikely to do so. ARS must first win a civil case against you, and then, if you fail to pay the court settlement, it can ask a judge to put a lien on your home.

Do debt collectors offer COVID-19 relief?

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the entire financial services sector, including debt collection agencies. However, ARS deals with clients on a one-on-one basis and doesn’t offer any COVID-19 relief programs.

Is ARS a scam?

No; ARS is a legitimate debt collector specializing in medical debt. If ARS contacts you, the problem won't go away on its own. You should act immediately.

How to contact ARS

  • Mailing address (For written correspondence): Account Resolution Services, P.O. Box 459079, Sunrise, FL 33345-9079
  • Payment mailing address: Account Resolutions Services, P.O. Box 630806, Cincinnati, OH 45263-0806
  • Website: www.arspayment.com
  • Phone number: 844-729-2772

It will take at least a month, and probably a few trips to the post office, to get ARS off your credit history. You’ll have some hurdles to jump over to make this happen. If you don’t have a printer at home, you’ll need to find another way to print the letters you need to send.

If you have better things to do with your time, consider hiring a professional credit repair company, such as Lexington Law or Credit Saint. These experts won’t do anything you can’t do yourself. They’ll send letters and make follow-up calls, but they’ll get the work done quicker and more efficiently than you can in exchange for a monthly payment of $80 to $120 over several months.

For some people, it’s worth the money to hire an expert. Others don’t want to part with the cash and prefer to get their own hands dirty. The results can be the same either way.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect ARS’s current contact information.

Disclaimer: This story was originally published on June 24, 2020, on BetterCreditBlog.org. To find the most relevant information concerning collections or credit card inquiries, please visit: https://money.com/how-to-remove-collections-from-credit-report/ or https://money.com/get-items-removed-from-credit-report/