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Saturday, July 4, 2009

New FCRA case - DiMedio v. HSBC Bank

Yet another case where the Plaintiff represented himself or herself ... poorly. This case was decided by District Judge Simandle for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

The Plaintiff Ben DiMedio, representing himself, filed a lawsuit against HSBC, alleging violations of 15 U.S.C. 1681s-2(a) and 1681s-2(b) arising from some alleged errors surrounding charges and payments on his credit card with HSBC. HSBC moved to dismiss the Plaintiff's FCRA claims. Judge Simandle correctly dismissed the Plaintiff's 15 U.S.C. 1681s-2(a) claim because there is no private right of action for violations of this subsection (a) of 1681s-2. In other words, violations may only be enforced by certain governmental agencies, not private consumers (even though it is the private consumer who is injured and thus has the incentive to seek enforcement).

The Court also dismissed the Plaintiff's 15 U.S.C. 1681s-2(b) claims because, apparently, Mr. DiMedio did not fully appreciate the steps required to have been taken before a claim under 1681s-2(b) arises. 1681s-2(b) requires a furnisher of credit information (in this case HSBC) to investigate disputes lodged with the credit bureau(s) regarding the information furnished by the furnisher to the credit bureau. So in this case, DiMedio was required to dispute the erroneous account information not to HSBC (although its good to do that too) but directly to the credit bureau(s) reporting the erroneous information on DiMedio's credit report(s). This is called a 1681i dispute and is a prerequisite to a claim under 1681s-2(b). Because DiMedio did not follow the requirements of 1681s-2(b) before filing suit, Judge Simandle correctly dismissed DiMedio's 1681s-2(b) claim as well.

Dismissal could have easily been avoided by simply understanding 15 U.S.C. 1681s-2(b), which is why DiMedio should have hired an attorney before filing his lawsuit.

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