You checked your credit report, not expecting to see a collections account listed there, only to find Meridian Financial Services. Who are they, is it a scam, and what should you do? If this sounds like your situation, or you’re getting calls from Meridian Financial Services, you have rights, and there are steps you can take to deal with the situation effectively.
Meridian Financial Services is a company that works as a third-party debt collector. The process of debt collection can generally look something like this:
An original creditor might include a credit card issuer, bank, another type of loan company, a utility provider, or a medical care provider. A third-party debt collector is never the original creditor.
Usually, the original creditor will attempt to collect late payments in-house for a period of time. Once they give up on collecting it, they’ll either sell it to a third-party collector or hire a company like Meridian Financial Services as a third-party collector. Third-party collectors are similar to outsourced debt collectors.
There are limits on how and when a debt collector can contact someone.
The credit bureaus include Experian, Transunion, and Equifax.
For most debts, the statute of limitations is seven years. During this time, the effects on someone’s credit score from the negative information will lessen, but still, it can make it difficult or impossible to open new accounts, rent a home, or even get certain jobs.
Meridian Financial Services is a legitimate company; they’re not a scam. The company is in Asheville, North Carolina. While they are legit, there are numerous consumer complaints and negative reviews against Meridian Financial Services.
Some of these complaints focus on:
Even when dealing with a legitimate company, they might not be compliant with laws and regulations in the debt collection industry, meaning you need help from a consumer protection attorney.
There are many valid reasons why you might want to dispute a debt with Meridian Financial Services. You might not owe the debt at all. This happens more often than people realize, with information getting mixed up with the original creditor, but also with credit reporting bureaus. If your name is similar to another person’s, you might be getting calls about their debt rather than yours.
The debt might be partially incorrect, even if it is yours. Payment dates or balances might be listed incorrectly.
There are also a lot of situations where old debts are listed as new, or debts are reported more than once, creating an even more significant effect on your credit score.
Identity theft is another reason to dispute a debt. For victims of identity theft, often getting calls from a debt collector like Meridian Financial Services or seeing them on their credit report is the first indicator they’ve been affected.
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), every consumer has the right to dispute incorrect information, but as indicated by the consumer reviews for Meridian Financial Services, that doesn’t always mean companies are compliant in how they respond to a dispute. When a dispute is submitted, the company receiving it is supposed to do a thorough investigation within 30 days. Then, they’re required to update or correct the wrong information.
Unfortunately, it often takes working with an attorney to get the attention of debt collectors when you’re disputing something. Working with a lawyer can show companies you’re serious about protecting your rights.
Plus, things can get worse when you try to contact debt collectors directly on your own. If you acknowledge a debt, it can restart the statute of limitations.
Along with the right to dispute a debt and have an investigation completed, the FCRA gives other rights to consumers. You have the right to know what’s on your credit reports, access them and get your credit score. You also have the right to know when someone is checking your credit, for what reason, and if you’re denied, the reasons why.
Another law relevant to third-party debt collectors and the FCRA is the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Debt collectors, because of the FDCPA, can’t:
You can ask debt collectors to cease communication with you under the FDCPA, and they have to comply. That doesn’t mean they can’t still take legal action against you, so you should still talk to an FCRA attorney.
If you’re dealing with Meridian Financial Services, Fair Credit can help. We’re consumer protection attorneys specializing in the FCRA. We can review your case for free to assess your situation and what the best steps would be moving forward.