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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

District Court grants MSJ to creditor in FCRA case

Courts FCRA Consumer Reporting Agency Consumer Finance

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On February 4, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida granted a defendant creditor’s motion for judgment on the pleadings in a case alleging FCRA violations. The plaintiff alleged that the payment status for a tradeline appearing on her credit report incorrectly showed it as “90 days past due” despite the account being paid and closed. She filed suit against the defendant and two consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) claiming the information furnished by the defendant to the CRAs was inaccurate and that the CRAs prepared and issued credit reports containing “inaccurate and misleading information.” Under the FCRA, entities that furnish information to CRAs are required to ensure the accuracy of the information. If an entity receives a notice of dispute from a consumer it is required to conduct an investigation and report the results to the CRAs—actions, the plaintiff claimed, the defendant failed to do. She further contended that the “pay status” field—which she claimed “is ‘specifically designed to be understood as the current status of the account’”—was causing her credit score to be lower than if it was marked as closed. However, upon review, the court determined that when objectively viewing the plaintiff’s credit reports in their entirety, it is apparent that the account is accurate and not misleading. According to the court, “the only reasonable reading of the [disputed] account is that the account was past due in September 2020, at which time the account was updated one last time and closed—zeroing out the balance. It does not indicate, as [the plaintiff] argues, that she is currently 60 days (or 90 days) past due.” Moreover, no reasonable creditor would look at the report and be misled into believing that the plaintiff had a present pending amount due, the court added.

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