Judge Grants Motion for Defendant in FCRA Over Removal of Dispute Notification

A District Court judge in Tennessee has granted a defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings that it did not violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act by failing to remove a dispute notification when furnishing information about an individual’s credit report to a credit reporting agency, because the individual only submitted the removal request to the CRA and not to the defendant itself.

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

The plaintiff, when looking at a copy of his credit report, noted that a particular account was being reported as in dispute. The plaintiff had submitted a letter to the credit reporting agencies indicating that he no longer disputed the tradelines and requested that the dispute notification be removed. Six weeks later, when he had not received a response from anyone to his letter, the plaintiff checked his credit report again and saw that the account was still being reported as “in dispute.”

The plaintiff filed suit, alleging the defendant violated Sections 1681s-2(b) and 1692s-2(b)(1) of the FCRA for failing to conduct a reasonable investigation and willfully violating that provision. But there is plenty of caselaw out there indicating that if an individual wants to remove a dispute notification from his or her credit report, he or she must alert the furnisher; simply notifying the credit reporting agency is insufficient. Beyond that, noted Judge Jon P. McCalla of the District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, guidance from the Federal Trade Commission has instructed consumers that they need to contact the credit bureau and the business that reported the inaccurate information.

“…the Court is persuaded by the cases that hold that a plaintiff’s letter to a CRA requesting removal of an ‘in dispute’ notation is insufficient to meet the Felts standard and thus that a defendant cannot, as a matter of law, fail to conduct a reasonable investigation under § 1681s-2(b) where the plaintiff never terminates the dispute directly with the furnisher, regardless of to whom the plaintiff initially disputed the account,” Judge McCalla wrote.

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