How to Remove Harris & Harris From Your Credit Report

By Ana Gonzalez-Ribeiro, MBA, AFC®
Published on: 01/16/2023

If you find Harris & Harris on your credit report, you probably owe a debt — Harris & Harris is a debt collection agency, meaning that they purchase unpaid debts from other lenders. You might also be receiving debt collection phone calls from them.

In this guide, we explain what Harris & Harris is, if the company is legitimate and how to remove this item from your credit report.

Table of contents

what is harris & harris

What is Harris & Harris?

Harris & Harris, Ltd is a third-party debt collection agency located in Chicago, Illinois. The collection agency has been in business since 1968.[1] As a debt collector, Harris & Harris purchases unpaid debts from the original creditors, such as healthcare providers, utility companies and government agencies, and attempts to collect on them.

Though healthcare expenses can go to a collection agency, medical debt doesn’t always appear on your credit report due to recent changes by the major credit bureaus.[2] As of July 1, 2022, credit bureaus will not list paid medical debt on credit reports, and you get a year, instead of six months, to address your debt with insurance companies and medical providers before unpaid debt is listed on your credit report. However, if that medical debt is under $500, beginning in the first half of 2023, the three major credit reporting bureaus will not list it on your credit report.

The contact information for this company follows:

harris & harris contact information

Is Harris & Harris a legitimate company?

When you see Harris & Harris on your credit report or get a notice from them by mail or over the phone, you might wonder if Harris & Harris is a scam. However, Harris & Harris is a legitimate debt collection agency accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating.[4] A BBB-accredited business refers to a determination by the BBB that a business has met certain accreditation standards, including making a good faith effort to find a solution to consumer complaints. Consumer complaints are not factored into the accreditation.[5]

Because Harris & Harris is a debt collection agency, it must follow federal law for debt collection agencies, established under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA). Debt collectors could violate your rights under the FDCPA, if they call or engage you in phone conversations repeatedly for the purpose of annoying, abusing, or harassing you. Under the FDCPA, debt collectors cannot falsely represent themselves by claiming to be an attorney or make threats or use profane language.[6]

Will Harris & Harris sue or garnish your wages?

If Harris & Harris obtains a court judgment against you, it may be able to garnish your wages until your debt is repaid.[7] Some federal benefits directly deposited into your account, such a Social Security and VA benefits, may be federally protected from wage garnishment, and each state varies in how it handles garnishment. So be sure to seek outside counsel to help you navigate possible wage garnishment.

If Harris & Harris attempts to pursue legal action against you, consult with an attorney who specializes in collections for legal advice on how to proceed with the case or retain legal help to prevent it from escalating.[8]

How to remove Harris & Harris from your credit report

Depending on your situation, you may have some ways to remove Harris & Harris from your credit report. Just remember that Harris & Harris can pursue you for the debt you truly owe even after it has fallen off your credit report. Just because the negative information falls off your credit report doesn’t change the fact that you owe the debt and can be pursued to pay it.

how to remove harris & harris from your credit report

Request a debt validation letter

Phone calls from a debt collector can be intimidating, but it’s important to know your rights and exercise them. Whether you believe the debt is legitimate or not, the first step to take when contacted by a collection service is to request debt validation. That way, you’ll know if the debt is something you do owe, or find out if it’s something assigned to you by mistake that can be removed.

You can send a debt validation letter to ask Harris & Harris to validate whether the debt is yours. Under the FDCPA, Harris & Harris will have to provide you with proof and can’t try to collect on the debt until they do.[6] Just be sure to send the letter within 30 days of when you are first contacted, and when you receive a response, carefully review it and write down any errors you see.

Obtain copies of your credit report

Request copies of your credit reports to see which of the three bureaus list the debt. You can request free copies of your credit reports from each bureau every 12 months online through annualcreditreport.com. You can also request a copy from each credit reporting agency directly — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — for a small fee.

If the debt is inaccurate, send a dispute letter

If you find that the debt is inaccurate — the amount is different or the name is incorrect — you can send a dispute letter to the Harris & Harris and the major credit bureaus to dispute the inaccurate information. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, provides templates for dispute letters you can use to contact the credit bureaus.[9]

If the debt is accurate, negotiate a settlement, a pay for delete or a goodwill removal

If the validation letter does prove that you owe the debt listed, you can offer to negotiate a settlement or installment plan to close the collection account. Still, closing a collection account through a negotiated settlement is better than leaving it unpaid and open, just waiting for it to drop off your credit record.

Depending on how old your debt is, you may want to speak to an attorney or credit counselor as well as seek out your state’s statute of limitations on debt. Although debt doesn’t go away until it is paid, each state has its own laws regarding how long you can be sued over debt. Because each state is different and how you act can affect the statute of limitations, an attorney who specializes in collections can help you navigate the process.[6]

According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), only inaccuracies can be disputed and removed from your credit report. So the only options for removing accurate debt from your credit report is to negotiate a pay for delete or request a goodwill removal. While you may negotiate one of these successfully, bear in mind that debt collectors as data furnishers under the FDCPA are required to report debt accurately. Even if they agree to a pay for delete or goodwill deletion, they may not follow through with it.

Pay for delete

You can try to negotiate a pay-for-delete agreement with Harris & Harris, asking that the negative entry be removed from your credit report in exchange for paying off some or all of the debt. If the company agrees to remove the entry, be sure to get that in writing, as Harris & Harris may not remove it even if you pay off the debt. Even if Harris & Harris agrees to remove your collection from your credit history, it cannot remove the negative information from the original delinquent account.[10]

Goodwill removal

Another way to try and remove Harris & Harris from your credit score is with a goodwill letter. The letter explains why the debt occurred and provides proof that this was an extenuating circumstance to your otherwise consistent payment history. For example, you lost your job or had a medical emergency.[11]

Like a pay for delete, a goodwill letter is not an official strategy and is not guaranteed to work. The Federal Trade Commission states that if negative information is accurate, it will simply take time to go away.[6]

Know your rights

When dealing with debt collectors, you may report any problems with the debt collection agency to the FTC, the CFPB or your state attorney general.

Your rights as a consumer are protected by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which outlines the following guidelines for debt collectors:

  • Unless you have given prior consent to Harris & Harris, a debt collector such as Harris & Harris is not allowed to communicate with you about the collection of any debt or validate the accuracy of debts attributed to you while you are at work, outside of the hours 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in your time zone, and if you’re clearly working with an attorney (unless the attorney consents to the collector contacting you or doesn’t respond to the debt collector within a reasonable timeframe).
  • You have the right to protect yourself from harassment or abuse, false or misleading representations and other unfair practices.
  • A debt collector may not engage in conduct that is used to harass, oppress, or abuse you in connection with the collection of a debt, such as threatening or violent acts to you or harassing you by continually calling without disclosing meaningful details.
  • A debt collector is not allowed to use false or misleading representations in connection with a collection of any debt or threaten to take any action that is not intended (such as to file suit or garnish your wages) or that can’t legally be taken.
  • A debt collector is not allowed to use unfair means to collect any debt. For example, they can’t collect any amount — such as interest or a fee — that’s not expressly authorized by the agreement creating the debt.
  • Upon your request for validation, a debt collector is required to send you a written notice containing the following: the amount of the debt owed, the name and contact information of the creditor to whom the debt is owed and a statement that the debt is valid (unless you have disputed the validity of the debt within 30 days of the notice).[6]

How Harris & Harris can affect your credit score

Having any collection account on your credit report can negatively impact your credit score. While paid medical debt will no longer be included on your credit report, unpaid medical collection accounts can appear on your credit report if left unpaid after one year, which can affect your credit score. Unpaid medical debt under $500, however, will not appear on your report.[2]

How to request a free credit report

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus through annualcreditreport.com. You can check your report for inaccuracies and stay on top of items reported that affect your credit score.

Sources

  1. Harris & Harris. “About You,” https://www.harriscollect.com/about-you/. Accessed August 28, 2022.
  2. TransUnion. “Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion Support U.S. Consumers With Changes to Medical Collection Debt Reporting,” https://newsroom.transunion.com/equifax-experian-and-transunion-support-us-consumers-with-changes-to-medical-collection-debt-reporting/. Accessed August 28, 2022.
  3. Harris & Harris. “Harris & Harris,” https://www.harriscollect.com/. Accessed August 28, 2022.
  4. Better Business Bureau. “Harris & Harris Ltd., ” https://www.bbb.org/us/il/chicago/profile/collections-agencies/harris-harris-ltd-0654-88724008. Accessed on October 28, 2022.
  5. Better Business Bureau. “Exclusive Programs and Services.” https://www.bbb.org/get-accredited. Accessed on October 28, 2022.
  6. Federal Trade Commission. “Debt Collection FAQs,” https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/debt-collection-faqs. Accessed August 28, 2022.
  7. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “Can a debt collector garnish my bank account or my wages?” https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/can-a-debt-collector-garnish-my-bank-account-or-my-wages-en-1439/. Accessed August 28, 2022.
  8. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “How do I find a lawyer or attorney to represent me in a lawsuit by a creditor or debt collector?” https://www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/how-do-i-find-a-lawyer-or-attorney-to-represent-me-in-a-lawsuit-by-a-creditor-or-debt-collector-en-1433/. Accessed on September 26, 2022.
  9. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “SAMPLE LETTER: Credit report dispute,” https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/092016_cfpb__CreditReportingSampleLetter.pdf. Accessed August 28, 2022.
  10. Forbes. “Pay For Delete: Learn About This Collection Removal Strategy,” https://www.forbes.com/advisor/credit-score/pay-for-delete/. Accessed August 28, 2022.
  11. Credit Karma. “Goodwill letters: What you need to know.” https://www.creditkarma.com/advice/i/goodwill-letter. Accessed October 21, 2022.

About the author

Ana Gonzalez-Ribeiro, MBA, AFC® is an Accredited Financial Counselor® and a Bilingual Personal Finance Writer and Educator dedicated to helping populations that need financial literacy and counseling. Her informative articles have been published in various news outlets and websites including Huffington Post, Fidelity, Fox Business News, MSN and Yahoo Finance. She also founded the personal financial and motivational site www.AcetheJourney.com and translated into Spanish the book, Financial Advice for Blue Collar America by Kathryn B. Hauer, CFP. Ana teaches Spanish or English personal finance courses on behalf of the W!SE (Working In Support of Education) program has taught workshops for nonprofits in NYC.

Editorial policy

Our goal at Self is to provide readers with current and unbiased information on credit, financial health, and related topics. This content is based on research and other related articles from trusted sources. All content at Self is written by experienced contributors in the finance industry and reviewed by an accredited person(s).

self logo
Written on January 16, 2023
Self is a venture-backed startup that helps people build credit and savings. Comments? Questions? Send us a note at hello@self.inc.

Disclaimer: Self does not provide financial advice. The content on this page provides general consumer information and is not intended for legal, financial, or regulatory guidance. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks. Although this information may include references to third-party resources or content, Self does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. The Credit Builder Account, secured Self Visa® Credit Card, and Level Credit/Rent Track links are advertisements for Self products. Please consider the date of publishing for Self’s original content and any affiliated content to best understand their contexts.

Take control of your credit today.