Monday, July 29, 2013

$18.6 Million FCRA Verdict!

Congratulations to my NACA colleagues, Mike and Justin Baxter. They were the plaintiff's lawyers in a Fair Credit Reporting Act case in which their client was awarded a jury verdict of $180,000 in actual damages and $18.6 million in punitive damages. Their client had tried unsuccessfully through many attempts to get Equifax to correct a mixed up credit report. Some of you might think $18.6 million is ridiculous. I agree that's a lot of money but what I think is really ridiculous is that for the 15 years that I've been involved in credit report cases, and no doubt for years before that, our small group of consumer attorneys have been pressing the consumer reporting agencies to adopt simple, common sense procedures to solve credit report errors, and they have continually refused. The result has been that 21% of Americans have errors on their credit reports, and 5% could be denied credit because of them. The credit reporting agencies have been hit in the pocket book before with verdicts in the single digit million, but they still figure that it's cheaper to risk the occasional verdict than do simple things like forward the proof of error the consumer sends in to the reporting creditor. Sometimes they don't even forward the complete text of the consumer's dispute. They "investigate" consumer disputes using contractors in low-wage countries, and give the person handling the dispute a staggering caseload. Hopefully this verdict will be the start of a process of improvement.

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