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The majority of lawsuits by consumers challenge the accuracy of the information on them reported by the CRA. There are two types of violations related to the accuracy of information: negligent violations and willful violations.

A CRAs conduct may be found negligent if its conduct was not that of a reasonable person in a similar situation. It is not enough for the consumer to show the CRA’s report on them is inaccurate or that credit or employment was denied.

The consumer also has to prove that it was the inaccuracy that caused the harm rather than other aspects of the report. The violation must be a factual cause of the injury, and it also must be a proximate cause of the injury. In other words, they must prove that the CRAs’ actions directly caused the injury.

Common examples of willful violations are:

  • Mixing Files
  • Privacy Violations
  • Withholding Notices
  • Not Following Proper Debt Dispute Procedure
  • Requesting A Credit Report For An Allowable Reason
  • Reporting Or Furnishing Inaccurate Or Old Information

To establish a willful violation, consumers have to establish that the CRA either knowingly or recklessly violated the statute and that there is an objectively reasonable interpretation of the standard.

If the willful violation conduct could have reasonably been thought to have been lost, then the personal interpretation of the intent has no bearing.

Thus, as an experienced firm, Citron & Citron has extensive and successful experience defending against lawsuits based on claims of willful, knowingly, and/or reckless actions.

Who Governs Credit Reporting Agencies And Enforces The Fair Credit Reporting Act?

Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau share enforcement authority and both of these entities issue regulations and guidance.

Today, however, there are more lawsuits brought by private consumers than there are actions brought by these regulatory agencies.

These lawsuits are initiated by individuals to recover actual or statutory damages based on FCRA violations and occur more often in the private context than by regulatory procedure.

Who Can File A Claim Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act?

The FCRA allows individuals to file claims when violations occur.

The Steps A Consumer Must Take To File A Claim Under The Fair Credit Report Act

A consumer needs to find a lawyer willing to take their case. The first step is a phone call to one of the many attorneys who advertise on television, radio, or the internet about their ability to help consumers navigate false claims reporting or false credit reporting cases.

What Consumers Will Look To Get Out Of Their Claims?

Consumers will seek the following:

  • Actual damages can be sought by a consumer if there’s a willful failure to comply with the requirement, a consumer can seek actual damages under 15 USC 1681, statutory damages of $100-$1,000 for their clients, as well as punitive damages.

Depending on whether they’re claiming a negligent or a willful violation, they may seek compensation for court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees, as well.

  • Emotional distress can be actual damages. For instance, consider a situation where a consumer gets their credit report back, and it claims they are a registered sex offender when they are not. In this scenario, the lawsuit is going to have an added emotional distress component.
  • Consumers will often assert that this is something that they never dreamed would happen to them and that it is damaging to their person because it is being divulged to third parties. These assertions can result in claims of emotional distress, which result in additional damages.
  • Lost opportunity damages: If the consumer was interviewing for a job and lost it due to the false statement that they were a registered sex offender, this is a lost opportunity. But business-related damages are not recoverable.

In the event the consumer applies for a mortgage (or another similar loan) that is not approved because their credit report states they are a sex offender, there will likely be a claim for damages associated with those alleged losses.

How Long Will The CRA Have To Respond To A Claim?

Normally, the claim is filed in court, and you have whatever statutory time it is the court allows you to respond to the complaint. Which is usually 30 days. The timeline that will apply to your case is governed by whether it’s filed in federal or state court.

Typically, cases filed in federal court are due to a diversity of citizenship between where the credit reporting agency is and where the plaintiff resides.

For example, if a plaintiff living in Orlando, Florida is suing a credit reporting agency located in San Francisco, California, the case would typically be brought to trial in San Francisco.

For more information on Claims Brought Under the FCRA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (310) 450-6695 today.

Thomas Citron

Call Us Now To Get Started
(310) 450-6695

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