Is Equidata calling you? Here's what you need to know.
When it comes to collecting overdue financial obligations, debt collectors have a tenacity that can be alarming. In September 1977 Congress was pressured to pass a consumer protection law called the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, or FDCPA, to deal with the rising number of personal bankruptcies that were attributed to aggressive collection practices.
In addition to giving consumers the right to dispute a debt and tell a collector to stop contacting them, the FDCPA prohibits the use of activities like the following to collect or attempt to collect a debt.
- Yelling, swearing, and using language meant to intimidate you
- Telling you that you can be arrested and sent to jail if you don’t pay
- Contacting you at work when the collector knows that such calls are not permitted at your place of employment
- Discussing the debt with anyone except you, your attorney, spouse, or any co-signers on the debt
Alleged Violations against Equidata*
Equidata is a collection agency located in Newport News, Virginia. It was established in 1905, employs a staff of 120, and has an active membership in the Association of American Credit and Collections Professionals. Civil litigation records on file at the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) website confirms that Equidata has been accused of violating the FDCPA while attempting to collect debts.
Thomas McElvey v. Equidata, Inc
In October 2008, a New Jersey resident received a collection notice from Equidata about an outstanding medical debt. He sent the agency a dispute notice via fax the following October, stating that he refused to pay them and would deal with his original creditor. He also requested no further communication.
Equidata sent her a letter confirming that it would cease communications, but added that the outstanding debt might appear on his credit file. He sent them another letter stating that if Equidata placed an negative trade line on his credit file, he would treat it as a further communication and an attempt to keep collecting the debt. Regardless, a negative trade line soon appeared.
She hired a consumer attorney and filed a class action lawsuit accusing Equidata of the following FDCPA violations:
- Communicating with him and others after receiving written confirmation that he was refusing to pay the debt and wanted no further communication (15 U.S.C. § 1692c(c))
- Using harassing methods to collect a debt (15 U.S.C. § 1692d)
- Using false and deceptive means to collect a debt (15 U.S.C. § 1692e)
- Using unfair or unconscionable means to collect a debt (15 U.S.C. § 1692f)
- Failing to cease collection efforts until the debt was validated (15 U.S.C. § 1692g(b))
The matter was later dismissed.
These phone numbers are both associated with Equidata:
If you see either number on your caller ID, it means that a debt collector is attempting to contact you about a delinquent financial obligation. If they disregard your request to stop contacting you and fail to report a debt as disputed to the credit reporting agencies, contact a consumer attorney who can help you pursue the matter in court.
The FDCPA has firm guidelines in place regarding debt collector communications with consumers, and you could receive $1,000 in statutory damages per FDCPA violation, as well as court costs and attorney fees. When debt collectors disregard your rights, a good attorney will help you reassert them.
*Case taken from PACER (www.pacer.gov). File number is 3:09-cv-03885-FLW-DEA from United States District Court, District of New Jersey.
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 Equidata or any other third-party collection agency, you may not be entitled to any compensation.