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Monday, May 11, 2009

Prior lawsuits

I have been representing consumers in lawsuits via the Fair Credit Reporting Act since September 1999. In this time, I have represented consumers in litigation against pretty much all the major names in the credit industry, from the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) to all the major banks (Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank, MBNA, Bank One, etc.). I have also sued companies like Verizon, Navy Federal Credit Union, Ford Motor Credit Company and American General.

Most of the FCRA lawsuits that I have handled arose from the theft of my client's identity. Sometimes I sue the creditors that opened the fraud accounts for what I call "negligent enablement of identity theft". Other times I simply sue the creditors and/or the credit bureaus for refusing to remove the fraudulently opened accounts from my clients' credit reports. Such lawsuits allege various violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, such as violations of the credit bureau's duty to perform a reasonable investigation of the disputed information pursuant to 15 U.S.C. Section 1681i or the furnisher's (i.e. the credit card company) duty to perform a reasonable investigation of the disputed information pursuant to 15 U.S.C. Section 1681s-2(b). You can't sue for violations of 1681s-2(a) as there is no private cause of action for violations of that part of 1681s-2. The FCRA also requires consumer reporting agencies to follow reasonable procedures to assure maximum possible accuracy of the credit reports they prepare.

For negligent violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers can recover their actual damages (i.e. money lost due to increased interest rates, emotional distress, humiliation, etc.), plus reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs. For willful violations (i.e. violations committed either intentionally or with reckless disregard for the requirements of the FCRA), the consumer can also recover punitive damages. If proper representation is utilized, FCRA cases can have significant case value due to the seriousness of the damages involved, particularly the emotional damages arising from the consumer's feeling of loss of control of his or her finances.

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