Our friend Robert Duff of the Indiana Consumer Law Blog has an interesting post about a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision which holds that when a credit reporting agency (such as Equifax, Experian, or Trans Union) recklessly reports or recklessly investigates your disputes, punitive damages can be considered by the jury. Some areas of the country previously held that only “intentional” conduct would allow this.
The implication? According to Robert Duff:
What does this mean? Well, it’s HUGE! Quite simply, it means that punitive damages will be much, much easier for consumers to obtain under the FCRA. It means that FCRA defendants will have a much more difficult time obtaining summary judgment on punitive damages claims. It means the value of many FCRA lawsuits just went up astronomically, because now consumers can get these claims before a jury. And when that happens, look out! I think we’ll see a slew of large punitive damage verdicts in the next year.
Hopefully, this will make both the furnishers and credit reporting agencies care a little bit more about maintaining standards designed to ensure accurate credit reporting.
Remember if you want to follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act approach (there are alternative state law methods) the first step is always to pull your credit reports, then see if the reports are accurate, then dispute the wrong information.
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