03 Dec Florida Jury Awards $2.9 Million From Equifax For Repeated Credit Reporting Errors
On November 30, 2007, an Orlando, Florida jury sent a message to a Defendant, Equifax Credit Reporting Agency and all other credit reporting agencies, as well as all consumers, by awarding Angela Williams $2.9 million dollars in damages. Ms. Williams sued Equifax after trying to clean up her credit report for years. She alleged over ten (10) violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The jury agreed with her, and in so doing, gave hope to millions of Americans who deal with the credit reporting agencies on a daily basis.
Ms. Williams discovered that her credit report was being mixed with another person who had a similar name and social security number in 1994. Over the next nine (9) years, she disputed the incorrect information and Equifax would delete the incorrect information and then at some point in time in the future, the incorrect information would show up again. As a result, Ms. Williams missed opportunities for good interest rates, was denied credit, and experienced damage to her reputation, as well as the frustration accompanied with these types of problems. At the same time that Equifax was mixing the credit reports, it was also publishing Ms. Williams account information to the creditors and debt collectors of the person that she was being mixed with.
The purpose of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is “to require that consumer reporting agencies adopt reasonable procedures for meeting the needs of commerce for consumer credit, personnel, insurance, and other information in a manner which is fair and equitable to the consumer, with regard to the confidentiality, accuracy, relevancy, and proper utilization of such information.” 15 U.S.C. 1681(b). Here, it seems that the jury did not believe that Equifax adopted reasonable procedures. Nor did the jury believe that Equifax took reasonable measures to protect the information entrusted to it.
So, the jury awarded $2.9 million dollars to the plaintiff, and in so doing, sent a message to all consumers and other credit reporting agencies that consumers are not going to sit idly by and allow the credit reporting agencies to continue reporting inaccurate information. Plaintiff’s lawyers are quietly cheering the jury verdict because it restore the consumer’s faith in the jury trial system which is found in our Constitution.
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