Judge Grants MSJ For Defendant in FCRA Case Over Accessing Credit Report When Collecting on Debt

In a case that was defended by David Schultz and the team at Hinshaw Culbertson, a District Court judge in Arizona has granted a defendant’s motion for summary judgment after it was accused in a class action of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act for accessing an individual’s credit report in order to obtain a mailing address so it could attempt to collect on a debt.

A copy of the ruling in the case of Wolf v. Carpenter Hazlewood Delgado & Bolen can be accessed by clicking here.

Back in 2017, the plaintiff stopped making payments on her homeowner association assessments. The defendant was hired by the HOA to collect on the unpaid assessments. Before it filed a lawsuit against the plaintiff, the defendant accessed her credit report to obtain her current mailing address. The plaintiff filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging the defendant violated the FCRA by accessing her credit report without her consent and claiming that an HOA assessment was not a credit transaction and that there was no direct link between the transaction and the request for the credit report — both requirements under the FCRA.

After first determining that the HOA assessment — which was assessed annually, but paid in monthly installments — was a credit transaction, the judge then looked at whether the transaction was voluntary or involuntary. Simply enough, nobody forced the plaintiff to purchase the house in question and the plaintiff was well aware of the HOA fees before deciding to buy the house, so there is no doubt that the transaction was entered into voluntarily, the judge ruled.

Then, Judge Douglas L. Rayes of the District Court for the District of Arizona, turned to the direct link argument made by the plaintiff.

Again, Judge Rayes, made short work of the plaintiff’s arguments. “It is undisputed that Defendant ‘obtained Plaintiff’s credit report to confirm her whereabouts before filing [a] justice court action against her in November 2019’ to collect the outstanding debt,” he wrote.

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