Judge Grants MTD in FCRA Case Over Dispute Investigation

A District Court judge in Illinois has granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act by not investigating and removing inaccurate information from the plaintiff’s credit report.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Soyinka v. Equifax Information Services can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff had a credit card account that was purchased by LVNV Funding. LVNV started sending the plaintiff collection letters to collect on the unpaid debt. The plaintiff sent two letters to LVNV saying she was insolvent and the debt that was attempting to be collected was not accurate. In the second letter, the plaintiff also asked for a copy of the agreement giving LVNV the right to collect on the debt.

LVNV had been reporting the details of the plaintiff’s account to the defendant.

The plaintiff then sent a letter to the defendant, claiming the information that it was reporting was inaccurate and warned the defendant not to rely on information from furnishers who were violating state and federal law. The defendant reached out to LVNV, which confirmed the tradeline.

The plaintiff then filed suit against the defendant, claiming it performed an “unreasonable investigation.”

The issue at hand is whether LVNV’s ownership of the plaintiff’s credit card debt is a question of law or of fact. The FCRA precludes a credit reporting agency from investigating when the source of the dispute is a legal issue.

At the end of the day, Judge Gary Feinerman of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, ruled that there is no way the defendant would be able to ascertain whether LVNV owned the plaintiff’s debt or not.

“Soyinka has no viable claim against Equifax,” Judge Feinerman wrote. “At most, §§ 1681e(b) and 1681i(a) obligate consumer reporting agencies to investigate and resolve straightforward disputes, such as the contents of a document, the existence and easily ascertained meaning of court orders, or some other truly objective matter.”

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