Judge Grants Motion for Defendant in FCRA Case Over Disputed Tradeline

A District Court judge in Alabama has granted a defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings after it was sued for allegedly violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act because it referenced a monthly payment amount on a tradeline that had been closed and where the balance was $0 when furnishing information to the credit reporting agencies.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Bruce v. American Honda Finance Corp., can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff filed suit after reviewing copies of her credit report, which included information that was being furnished by the defendant. The information that was furnished indicated that the status of the account was closed, the balance was $0, and the monthly payment amount was $669. The plaintiff claimed the defendant violated the FCRA because the information that was being furnished was inaccurate because it appeared as though the plaintiff owed $669 every month when in fact the loan had been paid off. When the plaintiff disputed the information, it was not changed, leading the plaintiff to argue that the defendant had violated Section 1691s-2(b) of the FCRA by willfully and negligently conducting an improper investigation and providing inaccurate information after the investigation was conducted.

With respect to the claim that the defendant did not conduct a proper investigation, the plaintiff “did not allege any facts” that suggest the defendant’s “investigation efforts were unreasonable,” ruled Judge Emily Marks of the District court for the Middle District of Alabama. Not changing information being furnished or deleting a tradeline is proof that a proper investigation was not conducted.

Judge Marks then turned to whether the inclusion of the monthly payment amount was accurate or not. It is unlikely, Judge Marks ruled, that a lender would look at the tradeline, not that the account was closed and the balance was $0 and think that the plaintiff still had to keep making monthly payments. “There is little opportunity for confusion when then the alleged Errant Transaction is reviewed in context,” she wrote. “The context of the report reveals that the monthly payment line is neither inaccurate nor misleading.”

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