July 4, 2007

A Fair Credit Reporting Act Case Worth Mentioning

The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided the case of Heather Gillespie and Angela Cinson v. Equifax Information Services, L.L.C. on May 3, 2007. The case contains some language of which every FCRA/Consumer lawyer in the United States should be aware.

Plaintiffs in this case claimed that Equifax's consumer disclosure was not clear and accurate as required by sec. 1681g(a)(1) of the FCRA because the disclosure does not allow a consumer to determine whether Equifax is properly calculating when a debt must be removed from a consumer's credit report as required by sec. 1681c(a)(4) (seven years for most adverse accounts). The court agreed, finding that the disclosure was accurate but not clear:

We conclude that the consumer reporting agency must do more than simply make an accurate disclosure of the information in the consumer's credit file. The disclosure must be made in a manner sufficient to allow the consumer to compare the disclosed information from the credit file against the consumer's personal information in order to allow the consumer to determine the accuracy of the information set forth in her credit file. In writing sec. 1681g(a)(1), Congress requires disclosure that is both "clearly and accurately" made. An accurate disclosure of unclear information defeats the consumer's ability to review the credit file, eliminating a consumer protection procedure established by Congress under the FCRA.

Now that's good stuff! That is the kind of language that allows consumer lawyers to keep the credit reporting agencies honest, which in turn benefits all consumers.

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