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Woman Wins Debt Collection Lawsuit Alleging Companies Incorrectly Shared her Credit Information

May 7, 2009

As Anaheim fair debt collection lawyers, we were pleased to see that a federal appeals court has recently made it just a bit harder for credit agencies to go after the wrong debtor. According to a May 1 article in the Los Angeles Times, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that credit reporting agency Experian Information Systems and debt collector Pacific Creditors Association violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act and privacy laws when they went after consumer Maria Pintos. The ruling may lead to better enforcement of the Fair Credit Reporting Act's provisions on buying and selling credit histories, the newspaper reported.

Pintos sued the agencies after a case of semi-mistaken identity. Her son had bad credit, so she bought him a car and signed over the title after he paid her back for it. The car was later towed and impounded, and the son did not pay the fees. The towing company sold the debt to Pacific, the debt collector. Realizing that Pintos was more likely to pay than her son, Pacific or the towing company requested and received her credit information from Experian. This began seven years of embarrassing phone calls, many reaching Pintos at work, in which Pacific employees threatened to run her credit. With help from a legal aid organization, she sued for violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and privacy rights laws. In its decision, the Ninth Circuit said Experian and Pacific violated the FCRA because Pinto was not a party to the transaction between her son and the towing company.

The decision means Pintos is entitled to a trial in a lower court on her claims against the two companies. But perhaps even more importantly for us as Santa Ana debt collection violation attorneys, it could also lead to more careful behavior from credit reporting agencies. Credit reporting agencies are already required to follow the FCRA, but as an attorney in the article notes, they routinely ignore it because few consumers have the resources to hold them responsible for violations. This has real consequences for victims -- ruined credit, missed opportunities and harassment by predatory debt collection agencies. Holding credit agencies responsible for their actions will cut down on these injustices and score a victory for consumers.

Howard Law LLP protects consumer rights through our Fair Debt Collection Practices Act litigation practice. The FDCPA requires debt collectors to be honest with consumers, refrain from bullying or abusive tactics, avoid calling them at work on request and more. As with the FCRA, debt collectors routinely violate the FDCPA, relying on ignorance of their rights and embarrassment to keep consumers from fighting back. But with our Fullerton debt collection attorneys by your side, you can not only hold them responsible for violating the law -- you can also win back the costs of their illegal actions, as well as $1,000 for each violation and attorney fees. Our firm handles individual consumer lawsuits as well as class actions uniting large groups of consumers harmed by the same unfair practices.

If you're being illegally harassed by a debt collector and you'd like to learn more about your legal rights, please contact Howard Law online or call us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 for a free, confidential consultation.