Julie Miller has something to celebrate. She was awarded $18.6 million from Equifax Information Services, LLC, (the credit reporting agency) for errors on her credit report. Equifax was listed as a foreign limited liability company in her complaint.
Julie, who lives in Marion County, Oregon was denied credit from Hubbard Bank due to her Equifax credit report. Right around December 8, 2009, she requested a copy of her credit report from Equifax. A month later, Equifax sent her a form letter requesting she provide additional information. Julie sent another request back to Equifax on January 11, 2010, enclosing the additional identifying information Equifax asked for.
When Julie received her Equifax credit report January 21, 2010, the report contained false information including a wrong Social Security number, the wrong birthday and false derogatory collection accounts attributed to her. She immediately disputed the false information sending a facsimile (fax) to Equifax. Equifax later sent their investigative results – but nothing on Julie’s credit report had been corrected.
In March 2010, Julie was denied credit from a bank due to the Equifax credit report.
Julie continued sending letters of dispute. Her letters detailed and highlighted the false information, along with her statement she had never defaulted on a single account in her life. Equifax continued to send back the form letters asking for more information and Julie kept sending the information again and again.
At one point, Equifax told Julie her data had become “mixed” with another person’s and was told she’d have to dispute the false information directly to those creditors.
Throughout this long ordeal, Equifax had been sending someone else’s personal information to Julie while her personal information was being sent to someone else.
Nearly two years later, in October 2011 Julie finally hired an attorney and sued. Julie’s attorney demanded a jury trial.
Julie missed out on credit opportunities and her reputation was damaged. She wasn’t able to help her disabled brother because she was denied a loan due to the credit report. The loan for an addition she wanted to add to her home? Denied.
During the court proceedings, it was learned when Julie’s complaints were received by Equifax, they’d run them through a scanner and then send them to a subcontractor somewhere in the Philippines.
In Julie’s complaint, Equifax failed to comply with the requirements under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) by not following reasonable procedures to assure maximum accuracy, failing to comply with reinvestigation requirements, providing her credit file to companies without determining if those companies had a permissible purpose, and failing to provide her credit file pursuant to several statutes. Further, the complaint caused worry, distress, frustration, embarrassment and humiliation. Evidently the jury agreed. The punitive damages awarded were $18.4 million and another $180,000 was awarded in compensatory damages. Equifax plans on appealing the decision.
Last year, there were nearly 30,000 complaints in 24 states against credit reporting companies having false information on a person. It’s estimated more than ten times that amount of misinformation goes unreported.
Keith A. Gantenbein, Jr. is a Colorado consumer advocate attorney, foreclosure defense and real estate attorney located in Denver and servicing all of Colorado. His foreclosure defense practice includes: foreclosure prevention, foreclosure assistance, loan modifications, short sales, and all other foreclosure defense legal assistance. He also handles bankruptcies, wrongful credit reporting, mortgage negotiations, lender liability, real estate, civil litigation, debt defense, debt harassment, contracts and landlord/tenant. If you think you will be facing debt collection, foreclosure, or are in the foreclosure process, or have had a wrongful foreclosure, contact Keith Gantenbein at (303) 618-2122 for a one-hour consultation where he will discuss your situation and go over all your options with you.