HP Sears or Herbert P Sears Co. Inc is a third-party collection agency based in Southern California. HPS has received consumer complaints alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) such as failure to verify debts and attempting to collect debts not owed. If you have been contacted by HPS, make sure you understand your rights before responding.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Herbert P. Sears Co., Inc. was founded in 1928 and incorporated in 1947. The BBB established a profile page for HPS in 1955. HPS is listed as a collection agency. Buzzfile estimates HPS’ annual revenue at $3 million and the size of its headquarters staff at 30 people.
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According to its website, HP Sears“prides itself on…experienced, well-trained account recovery professionals…and innovative and cutting-edge technology that allows exceptional communication and the highest possible return for…clients.” HPS services “both consumer and commercial accounts receivable industries from its Bakersfield California location… and now represents clients throughout the United States.”
HPS collects delinquent accounts for four main industries—healthcare, financial services, judgment recovery, and automotive. HPS’ healthcare clients consist of hospitals, medical offices, and dental offices; their financial services clients consist of banks and credit unions; their judgement recovery clients consist of law firms and financial services clients; and their automotive clients consist of banks, credit unions, leasing companies, and dealerships.
As a full-service collection agency, HPS offers nationwide skip tracing; credit reporting; account litigation; medical management; early-out billing; asset and income investigations; payment monitoring; and insurance follow-ups.
HP Sears cites a “superior level of compliance and acute industry awareness that mitigates risk for our clients.” HPS complies with “all federal and state laws and regulations.” In addition, HPS staff are required to complete “training programs through ACA International and California Association of Collectors, Inc.…and are trained to adhere to the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA).”
The HPS site is client-facing. A minimal legal disclosure is posted on the online payment portal, but the site does not contain links or references to consumer protection resources, laws, or enforcement agencies.
The BBB has closed 17 complaints against HP Sears in the past three years, with 5 closed in the past 12 months. Most of those complaints allege problems with advertising and sales, although a large percentage allege problems with billing and collections. Since March 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has received 25 complaints about HPS. Justia lists at least 2 cases of civil litigation involving HPS.
2000 18th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301
Telephone: (661) 325-5981
It is illegal for a debt collector to make empty threats to sue you or garnish your wages. It is also unlikely HPS would sue you for a debt you may not owe or they cannot validate. However, debt collection agencies are known to have summoned debtors to court and garnish wages after a default judgement. Contacting an attorney BEFORE this could possibly happen would be a smart move. We’ve helped thousands of consumers fight back against unscrupulous debt collection harassers. Find out if we can help you too today!
Absolutely. Here are some Sample Cases
In June 1976, in the Court of Appeals of California, Fifth Appellate District, a judge issued an Opinion in a case alleging delinquent hospital bills had been assigned for collection illegally. In this case, there were two individual plaintiffs. One plaintiff was a 22-year-old, widowed seasonal farm worker. His wife had been admitted to the county hospital to give birth, after which she died. The county hospital billed the plaintiff $175 for costs in treating the newborn infant. The plaintiff himself had not received any treatment. The bill was subsequently assigned to the county collection service and the plaintiff was sent a “series of notices demanding payment and threatening legal action if payment was not received.” The other plaintiff received medical treatment in the amount of $461.30 and signed an agreement to pay the bill in monthly installments of $15.00. When she became unable to make payments, the debt was assigned to the county collection agency, who sent her a series of notices.
The question before the court was whether private collection agencies, in this case represented by Herbert P Sears Co, could legally accept assignments from county hospitals and county collection agencies. Provisions of the Federal Health and Safety Code and Welfare and Institutions Code, which had been enacted in 1961 and 1953 respectively, require that certain consideration must be given to the collection of delinquent debts originating with county institutions; specifically, agents empowered to collect delinquent debts must ensure that the patient is able to pay; that the statute of limitations does not bar collection activity; and that the costs of collection do not exceed the amount owed. Furthermore, county collection agencies reserve “the right to re-evaluate and to adjust or cancel any bill, account or claim assigned for collection to the Collection Agency, particularly where the collection of the same would result in undue hardship to the debtor or his dependents, or presumably result in indigency for the family or dependents of such debtor.”
The plaintiffs argued that assignment to a private collection agency that is motivated solely by profit removed the protections mandated by federal statutes, and therefore rendered such assignments illegal. The court parsed the legal language regulating public-sector collection agents, but could not agree that there was any implication that county collection agents were prohibited from making such assignments. The caveat was that the mandated protections requiring public collection agencies to ensure debtors have the means to pay and that enable the cancellation of debts when collection would result in undue hardship or indigency are equally applicable to any agency to which public agencies may assign debts, regardless of whether the agency-in-assignment is public or private. However, this case did not review whether the private agencies in question adhered to those legally mandated protocols that are applicable to public agencies and intended to protect underrepresented populations from predatory collection practices.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) are federal laws that regulate the collections industry. The FDCPA prohibits actions such as using tactics intended to harass, oppress, or annoy consumers. The FCRA regulates how collection agencies report information to credit reporting agencies. Additional consumer protection laws include the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). These laws are enforced by federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The complaints above illustrate why it is important to understand your rights and responsibilities under these laws when you are attempting to communicate with collection agencies.
In addition, these laws provide individuals with a means to seek monetary damages in court. For example, the FDCPA allows consumers to recover damages of up to $1,000, plus attorney fees and court costs, in cases proving violations of the FDCPA. Seek legal assistance if you are trying to resolve a dispute with a collection agency.
Your debt harassment checklist:
- You are receiving multiple calls per week from third party collection agencies
- You are receiving early morning or late night calls from debt collectors
- You are receiving calls at work from a debt collection agency
- Debt collectors are calling your friends, neighbors, or coworkers
- Collectors are threatening you with violence, a lawsuit, or arrest
- A debt collector attempts to collect more than you owe
- You are being threatened with negative credit reporting
- A debt collector attempts to intimidate you
- Criminal accusations are being made towards you
- Use of obscene language during an attempt to collect
- Automated robocalls are being made to your phone in an attempt to collect
If you’ve been harassed by debt collectors and even one of these has happened to you, we can help. We will fight for your rights.
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