Whether Harris & Harris just started calling you about a debt or if they’ve been on your case for months, it’s crucial to take the matter seriously and follow steps to safeguard credit score.
If a debt collector has your number on its calling list, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. But answering the call and paying the amount you owe won’t necessarily solve the problem either. Even when you pay off a collection agency, it can hurt your credit score for up to seven years.
Fortunately, consumers do have options to deal with debt collection agencies like Harris & Harris, which specializes in collecting unpaid medical bills and other types of debt. Here’s what to know.
Table of Contents
- What is Harris & Harris?
- Steps to remove Harris & Harris from your credit report
- Consumer complaints and Harris & Harris
- Harris & Harris contact information
- FAQs about Harris & Harris
What is Harris & Harris?
Don’t assume that Harris & Harris is a scam if you’re receiving unfamiliar calls. Harris & Harris is a real debt collection agency, and the company may be pursuing an unpaid debt you allegedly owe.
The company has been collecting debt across the U.S., from New York to California, since its founding in 1968, with about 500 employees today. Its headquarters are in Chicago, Illinois. The agency may show up under a number of names on your credit report, such as Harris and Harris Debt Collectors, Harris and Harris Ltd., Harris Collection, Harris Harris, Harris Ltd., or Harris & Harris Limited.
Harris & Harris collects for a variety of lenders, creditors and businesses across several industries. Their main areas of service include:
Steps to remove Harris & Harris from your credit report
When consumers miss a payment, it can be challenging for a company to collect the debt. Companies often turn to debt collection agencies, which can devote more time and effort to collecting payments.
Once a company has turned your debt over to a third-party collection agency, it will often show up on your credit report as a collections account, dealing a serious blow to your credit score. Outside of damaging your credit score, the agency can call you, send letters and email you persistently until you settle your account.
But with the following steps, you can hopefully remove the collection agency from your credit report.
1. Request copies of your credit report
The first step in dealing with a collection company is reading over your credit report. At least until the end of 2023, you can use AnnualCreditReport.com to get free weekly credit report checks from each of the three big bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
By checking your credit report, you’ll be able to confirm that the debt collector contacting you has actually reported a debt, and then you can review the details of the collection item for accuracy.
2. Write a letter to dispute the debt
Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), collections agencies must validate your debt if you write a letter of request. Send a written debt validation letter request via certified mail to leave a clear paper trail. At a minimum, their validation will tell you the name of the original creditor and the amount they say you owe.
If the collection agency is charging you for a debt that you’re certain you don’t owe, you should dispute it. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can also dispute inaccuracies on your credit report with the credit bureaus and they will have to investigate.
Even if you are responsible for the debt that Harris & Harris is requesting payment for, submitting a debt validation letter is still worth a shot. Since debt collectors are third-party agencies collecting on behalf of other companies, there’s a chance they don’t have valid documentation for your debt. If that’s the case, they should remove you from their calling and mailing lists and take the account off your credit report promptly.
The key to this method is acting fast. You can usually only dispute the claim within 30 days of the agency notifying you of your debt or responding with validation. If the negative mark has been on your report for less than a month, you should definitely submit a debt validation letter.
3. Make a payment
If the window for debt validation has closed, your best bet may be to contact Harris & Harris about a partial payment. There’s a chance the agency will be willing to negotiate a smaller payment in exchange for removing the collections account from your credit report. You can start your negotiations at around half of the amount you owe.
When you negotiate a payment, it’s imperative to communicate by mail. This solidifies your agreement and makes it easier to hold the debt collector to their agreement to remove the account from your report should there be any disagreements later on. Once you’ve come to an agreement on paper and made your payment, you should be able to see the changes on your credit report. If it’s been more than 30 days and you’re still waiting for your report to update, you should follow up with the agency.
If you’ve already settled a debt and it’s still showing up on your credit report, you can also send a letter asking the collection company to remove this information as a goodwill deletion. In your letter, identify the debt, note that it has been paid and request removal of the negative mark.
4. Let a credit repair company assist you
While you can certainly succeed with the DIY methods above, dealing with a collection agency can be frustrating and time-consuming. If you’re looking to play a less active role in the process but still improve your credit, a good credit repair agency can handle the process for you.
Consumer complaints and Harris & Harris
Consumers often complain about debt collection agencies and file complaints with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). People have filed more than 400 debt collection complaints in the past three years against Harris & Harris with the CFPB and 265 in the same timeframe with the BBB.
Common consumer complaints include inaccurate credit reporting and aggressive phone calls, and many of the complaints mention disputes over medical debt. The BBB has accredited Harris & Harris, which currently has an A+ rating based on its response to complaints, communication and transparency with the public.
If you’re forced to deal with Harris & Harris (or any debt collector), you should first educate yourself on the FDCPA. This act holds debt collectors to certain ethical communication standards, and it prohibits them from harassing you. It also gives you the right to demand that the agency only communicates with you by letter, which can be a relief if they are calling you repeatedly.
Harris & Harris contact information
- Address: 111 W Jackson Blvd Ste 400, Chicago, IL 60604-4135
- Phone Number: 1-800-362-0097
- Website: https://www.harriscollect.com/
FAQs about Harris & Harris
How does Harris & Harris affect my credit score?
Is it legal to remove Harris & Harris from my credit report?
Sometimes, however, it's not possible to get a collection item removed. Debt collection companies are supposed to accurately report information to the credit bureaus, so they may be reluctant to pursue deletion of a valid collection item.
How often should I check my credit report for Harris & Harris entries?
Disclaimer: This story was originally published on July 7, 2020, on BetterCreditBlog.org. It has been updated with more recent information about Harris & Harris. To find the most relevant information concerning collections or credit inquiries, read: How to Remove Collections from Your Credit Report and How to Remove Negative Items from Your Credit Report.