|Case Name:||Client v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC; Equifax Information Services, LLC; Trans Union, LLC; Credit Plus, Inc.|
|Court Location:||Central District of California|
|Case Name:||Client v. Ditech Financial, LLC; Equifax Information Services, LLC; Trans Union, LLC; Experian Information Solutions, Inc.|
|Court Location:||Central District of California|
- Jared Hartman, Esq.
- Posted on September 21, 2017
Semnar & Hartman Prosecuting Equifax For Massive Data Breach
By now, virtually all Americans must have learned about the massive data breach of Equifax that occurred earlier this year. On September 7, 2017, Equifax announced publicly (for the first time) that it had been the subject of a hackers’ data breach in July of 2017, and that the personal and financial information on upwards of 143 million people within the U.S. had been accessed.
All major news agencies have been consistently reporting on this widescale scandal for the past couple of weeks. One need only Google “Equifax data breach” to be inundated with a series of news articles that have been published on an almost daily basis up to now.
This all has come out at a time while there has been a strong on-going push by conservative lobbyists and lawmakers to reduce penalties available under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, to eliminate class actions, and to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as a result the cause for protecting and strengthening such pro-consumer laws and federal agencies has been thrust into the public eye.
The severity of this problem should be obvious: Equifax is a company that stores all varieties of personal and financial information, (bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, and much more), and coagulates that information for sale to other companies who need only claim to Equifax to have a “legitimate business purpose” in order to obtain such information, such as landlords, financial institutions, government agencies, debt collectors, investigators, and more. Our firm has even prosecuted scam artists who were able to obtain private information on previous clients by incorporating a debt collection company so that the credit reporting agencies would believe their claim of “legitimate business purpose”, when in reality their business practices were to falsely threaten the consumers with arrest if they did not pay exorbitant amounts of money that they did not actually owe.
It should go without saying, then, that the case for strengthening strangers’ access to consumers’ private information should be advanced. Unfortunately, however, Equifax treats such information (and the people associated with the information) as commodities, because Equifax consistently makes dozens of billions of dollars off their business practice of selling peoples’ information. And by treating such highly confidential and sensitive information as a commodity, Equifax appears to have been far too lax in its approach towards maintain the sanctity and security of this information.
As more and more information has come out, and continues to come out, it seems that Equifax has been the subject of multiple data breaches over the past several years (including one in March that they failed to disclose on Sept 7th), which means that they should have known that their systems are subjected to on-going attacks and they should have taken extra precautions to prevent such a data breach. Yet they failed to do so. By failing to properly inform the public of such breaches, and attempted breaches, they have left people at risk.
If people had been informed sooner, then the people could have taken their own steps to monitor their own information, such as purchasing credit monitoring services from a reliable third-party source in order to receive notifications of new changes to credit files (such as receiving alerts when a new application for credit has been submitted in their name). Also, if people had been informed sooner, then they could have been more diligent about requesting credit freezes to ensure that no new credit applications could be taken out in their name without proving to the creditor that the applicant is truly the person who they say they are.
One is instead left to question how many people did, in fact, become a victim of identity theft during the months that Equifax failed to disclose the breach to the public, and to also ponder whether such identity theft could have been prevented had the public been properly informed sooner?
And now, for all time into the foreseeable future, everyone whose information was subjected to the breach is left to wonder when their information will be used for nefarious purposes by the culprits whose desire it is to commit identity theft and/or stealing directly from bank accounts.
When corporate profits are placed over the concern and well-being of the people, then the people undoubtedly suffer and lose—often-times with such losses being irreparable.
Thankfully, there are strong consumer advocates across the country who are ready to jump in to the battle and continue to fight for what is right in this world. For example, we have recently filed a Class Action lawsuit against Equifax to not only seek monetary compensation for our client, and all Class members, for the damage caused by the breach based upon Negligence principles, but to also request injunctive relief so that the courts can order Equifax to fix its problem. Our Complaint can be read by clicking HERE.
As always, if you or a loved one has any concerns about issues related to credit reporting, whether you have been identified as one of the “effected” people or even if you have something inaccurate on your credit reports, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation.
- Jared Hartman, Esq.
- Posted on June 21, 2017
Recently, in the Northern District of California, a jury returned a verdict of $60 million dollars against Trans Union, LLC (reportedly the largest FCRA verdict in history) based on class action allegations that Trans Union, LLC’s procedures inaccurately mixed innocent consumers with the names of terrorists and criminals with similar names from a government watch list.
Reporter Cara Bayles of law360.com recently wrote about the verdict and explained that, “TransUnion LLC’s credit reports checked consumers against the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control database, which lists terrorists, drug traffickers and other criminals. But, the suit alleged, reports about law-abiding consumers were sometimes linked to similarly named criminals on the OFAC watch list.” Ms. Bayles’ article can be read HERE .
The 8,185 class members were made of 8,185 individuals, each of whom were awarded by the jury roughly $984 in statutory damages and $6,353 in punitive damages, bringing the total award to $8 million in statutory damages and $52 million in punitive damages. The jury verdicts can be viewed by clicking HERE and HERE.
Our law firm is also experienced in handling FCRA violations based upon mixing information between consumer files. If you or a loved one have experienced any similar problems, do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
- Jared Hartman, Esq.
- Posted on April 4, 2017
With shocking frequency, the credit reporting agencies mix the files of two vastly different people to where one person suffers the consequences of another person’s bad life choices simply because they share a common name. For example, Lisa S. Davis published a very well-written article for The Guardian recently that describes the nightmare that she was forced to endure because her credit file had been mixed with multiple other women of the same name. The author’s nightmare included having to falsely plead guilty to traffic violations incurred by another “Lisa Davis”, after the judge threatened to jail her for lying about not being the culprit, so that she could clear her suspended driver’s license (which had been suspended erroneously due to the other “Lisa’s” traffic infractions). For years the author had believed that the other “Lisa Davis” had been stealing her identity, but in reality the system had mixed her identity with multiple other people of the same name. This article can be read in full by clicking HERE
Even though the above author’s situation happened in connection with background checks and the DMV, the “mixed file nightmare” more frequently arises in credit scenarios with respect to credit reports. This is typically discovered when someone is denied credit due to a history of negative credit in his/her file that was incurred by someone else, or receives lawsuits and/or debt collection efforts meant for someone else of the same name.
One example occurred to a Seattle woman named named Julie Miller. She had attempted to obtain credit in order to assist her disabled brother, including her desire to outfit her house to make it more disabled-assistive. She was repeatedly denied credit due to her file containing a long history of negative credit accounts incurred by someone else with a similar name. Her attempts to rectify the situation were routinely ignored by Equifax for approximately two years. Thus, a lawsuit resulted in a jury verdict of $180,000.00 in actual damages and $18.4 million in punitive damages. An article on this verdict can be read HERE
Our law firm also prosecutes these cases. In one matter, the client was denied credit due to his credit file containing a long history of negative credit incurred by his father. Experian did not identify the son as a person, and tagged the son’s identity to the father’s credit file. Thus, when a credit report was prepared for the son (who apparently didn’t exist according to Experian’s records), the report contained only information related to the father’s negative credit history. As a result, the son was denied credit.
When the son attempted to rectify this problem with Experian, his attempts were denied because he was using his own (and true) social security number as his identifying information in his letters to Experian. Because Experian did not recognize him as a person under that social security number (his true SSN), Experian denied every request. Therefore, Experian placed him in a completely helpless situation to where he had no choice other than to file a lawsuit to get his file corrected and get his life back in order.
The lawsuit also involves Corelogic, who is a reseller that was paid by the creditor to obtain the reports from Experian. Corelogic knew the information was not able to be published as the son’s credit history, yet passed the information on to the creditor as if it was the son’s accurate report anyway.
The third video is called: “Defending yourself in a lawsuit”. If you want to learn how to represent yourself, hear about common defenses against debt collectors, and gain knowledge of possible outcomes to your trial, then watch this video. NOTE: Our firm does not recommend representing yourself, as you will be facing an attorney with specialized education and training on how to argue their case against you. While it is your right to decide to represent yourself, we advise that you should have legal counsel on your side in order to not run into a legal minefield full of issues and problems that you may not anticipate.
The complaint for this case can be read by clicking HERE
If you or a loved one is experiencing anything similar, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation.
- Jared Hartman, Esq.
- Posted on April 13th, 2016
It has become increasingly commonplace in our society for credit reports and credit scores to be a primary driving force behind our ability to freely live and work in the U.S. From buying a car to buying a home, obtaining student loans, obtaining a line of credit to purchase home computer equipment, to leasing a fancy smartphone, and to even obtaining a job in many work-fields, our society has turned to one that thrives on accurate credit reporting. It has even resulted in potential employers and landlords perceiving our level of responsibility and trustworthiness as being contingent upon information contained within our credit reports. Many people don’t realize is that even criminal background checks can be conducted through a credit report public records section.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that we must have accurate information on our credit reports. In order to have an accurate credit score, the information reported on each account must be accurate. What might come as a surprise, however, is that it is frighteningly common for mistakes to occur in the system of generating information drive by numerical codes and syntax. All it takes is for one person to punch the wrong number in a code, and the output comes out drastically wrong. Or the computer system misreads the syntax, and suddenly two people have their individualized information mixed with each other erroneously.
On April 10, 2016, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”, a frightening—albeit comical—presentation was provided to emphasize just how important this topic has become in our every-day lives. You can watch the video here:
In order for a potential employer or landlord to obtain an accurate assumption of our levels of responsibility and trustworthiness as individuals, the information reported on each account must be accurate. Even the slightest wrong comment in the wrong section (for instance, adding “settled for less than full balance” as opposed to “settled for full balance”) can have a dramatic consequence.
Therefore, you as the individual should be diligent in reviewing your own credit reports on a regular basis. It is not acceptable anymore to just ignore what is on your credit report and assume it is all accurate anyway. You may be harmed without even realizing it. For instance, you may be paying a higher interest rate on your private student loans and credit cards or car loans based on inaccurate information that you don’t even know is on your report. Don’t ignore it…you should check your reports every few weeks just to make sure nothing has changed and everything is accurate.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights and answer any questions you may have. If something seems wrong, you should ask what to do about it. We know the right method for lodging written disputes and we are happy to point you in the right direction and answer your questions. And if your rights have been violated, then we are ready and able to pursue action if necessary.