Is Harvard Collection Service calling you? Here's what you need to know.
Debt collectors have a negative reputation for a reason. During their collection efforts, many can be invasive, persistent, and rude, even though such behavior is against the law.
In 1977 the US government enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, a consumer protection law intended to stop the harassing collection tactics common among third-party debt collectors. The FDCPA providers debtors with the right to:
- Be treated fairly during all collection efforts
- Request that collectors contact them only in writing (or not at all)
- Be represented by an attorney in a debt collection case
- Sue those who disregard FDCPA standards
The same law prohibits debt collectors from the following practices:
- Calling at inconvenient times, such as before 8:00 a.m. and after 9:00 p.m. in the consumer’s time zone
- Contacting someone at work after being informed that the employer does not permit such calls
- Using profane and abusive language to frighten a debtor into paying
- Claiming that someone can be arrested for nonpayment of a debt
- Discussing the debt with anyone but the consumer, their spouse, their attorney, and any debt co-signers (if applicable)
Alleged Violations against Harvard Collection Services*
Established in 1982, Harvard Collection Services is headquartered in Chicago and collects consumer debt all over the US. According to the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system, this particular collection agency has been sued frequently for alleged FDCPA violations. The consumer complaints websites also make reference to alleged misbehaviors such as calling at inappropriate hours and discussing debts with uninvolved third parties.
David Hoffart v. Harvard Collection Services
On March 15, 2010 David Hoffart, an Ohio resident, contacted Harvard Collection Services (HCS) to settle a debt owed to Sprint. The debt collector he spoke to said that the debt would be settled for $256.00 and the account removed from his credit report.
After Mr. Hoffart agreed, the HCS representative allegedly said that it would cost $7.00 to remove the information from the credit report. Mr. Hoffart declined to pay the additional fee as it was not part of the agreement. Another representative who identified himself as ‘David’ allegedly explained that the $7.00 fee was to expedite the credit reporting process. Mr. Hoffart said he would think about it and call them back.
Approximately one hour later, Harvard Collection Services placed multiple collection calls to Mr. Hoffart. A HCS representative, Angela, allegedly called his father, told him that she had just been on the phone with Mr. Hoffart but was disconnected, and added that it was regarding Harvard Collections. She then allegedly called his father again and requested Mr. Hoffart’s number.
Mr. Hoffart immediately phoned HCS and complained to a supervisor, Peter, about the violation of privacy and repeated calls after he had told David that he would contact them later. Peter allegedly denied that there had been repeated calls.
On March 20, Mr. Hoffart spoke with a HCS representative in the Compliance Department, who allegedly stated there was no $7 fee to remove information from a credit report.
The complaint filed with the US District Court accused Harvard Collection Services of the following violations.
- Contacting Mr. Hoffart at a time and place known to be inconvenient (§1692c(a)(3))
- Communicating with his father (§1692c(b)).
- Engaging in harassing conduct in connection with the collection of a debt (§1692d)
- Causing a telephone to ring repeatedly and continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse, and harass Mr. Hoffart (§1692d(5))
- Using false, deceptive or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of the alleged debt ( §1692e)
- Engaging in deceptive means in an attempt to collect the alleged debt by contacting Mr. Hoffart’s parents and stating a call had dropped to get information about him that it already had (1692e(10))
The matter was later settled.
The phone number for Harvard Collection Service is 1-773-283-5086. If this number appears on your caller ID, a debt collector is trying to contact you about an alleged debt. If the HCS representative adds an unauthorized charge to the amount owing, discusses the debt with your friends and family, or calls you repeatedly, hire a consumer attorney. If a debt collector breaks the law and you take them to court, you could win compensation of $1000 per FDCPA violation. No one deserves to be harassed and embarrassed, no matter how much money they owe.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is 1:10-cv-01315-CAB, from United States District Court, Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division- Cleveland.
Disclaimer: The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against Harvard Collection Services or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.