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SUFFERED A JOB DENIAL OR PROMOTION DENIAL BASED ON INACCURATE BACKGROUND CHECK INFORMATION?

The Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires that anytime an employer makes a decision to not hire an applicant due to results of a background check, the employer must provide the applicant an opportunity to dispute the findings.

The employer has the legal responsibility to provide the applicant with what is called an “adverse action notice”.  This notice explains the applicant’s rights under the FCRA if the employer decides to take an action determined to be “adverse”.  An “adverse action” constitutes a decision of the employer to not hire, promote, retain or reassign the applicant based on the results of a background check report.

The “adverse action notice” must be delivered to the applicant before the adverse action is actually taken.  This procedure is intended to provide the applicant with a copy of the background check report and “A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”.

By requiring the notice and report to be provided before the action is actually taken, the intent is to allow the job applicant a reasonable amount of time to contact the background check agency to dispute any inaccurate information in the report.

Our office has recently filed a class action lawsuit against HKA Enterprises, LLC for failing to comply with these requirements of the FCRA.  HKA Enterprises utilized information contained within a background check report to not hire our client, but it failed to provide the required adverse action notice and a copy of the report to our client.  Please review the Complaint by clicking HERE.

If you have suffered a similar set of circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free and confidential consultation to determine whether your rights have also been violated in such a way.

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CITIZENS BANK MOTION TO DISMISS DENIED FOR INACCURATELY REPORTING DEBT AFTER FORECLOSURE

On January 30, 2018, Judge Hayes of the Southern District federal court denied Citizens Bank’s motion to dismiss our inaccurate credit reporting claims.  Based on California Civil Code 580b, when a lender decides to foreclose on a home instead of pursuing the borrower for financial damages, and if the mortgage was undertaken for the purpose of purchasing the house, then the lender cannot pursue the borrower for any deficiency between what is left of the balance of the loan after foreclosure sale.  This is known in California as the “one bite” rule—the lender only gets “one bite” at the apple in pursuing recourse for the default.

Judge Hayes agreed with our allegations that, because the lender cannot pursue the borrower for any deficiency owed on the balance of the loan, then the lender also cannot report that deficiency upon the borrower’s credit reports.  In this case, Judge Hayes found that Citizens Bank had reported false, inaccurate, and misleading information, because Citizens Bank had been reporting on our client’s credit reports that he still owed a significant balance upon the loan after the foreclosure sale, which created the misleading impression that our client was still in default upon the account even though our client had no liability at all upon the account after the Bank chose to proceed with a foreclosure sale.

You can read a copy of the ruling by clicking HERE.

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Inaccurate Credit Reporting By Welk Resort After Releasing Property Back To Welk?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on October 5, 2017

 

We have recently initiated litigation against Welk Resort Groups concerning inaccurate credit reporting, and we are looking for anyone else who may have suffered the same problem so that we can obtain further information for our investigations. If you have suffered the same problem as below, please contact us for a confidential discussion.

We suspect that Welk has a business practice of sending letters to owners in default of their monthly payments to offer that, if the home owner were to agree to release the property back to Welk, then all monies allegedly owed will be deemed as fully satisfied, but thereafter continuing to report to the consumer credit reporting agencies that the home owner still owes a deficiency balance to Welk without any clarification at all that the deficiency had actually been satisfied in full and that no deficiency can be pursued against the owner.

Clearly, such reporting is factually inaccurate based upon the terms of Welk’s own offer. This has caused our client to suffer harm, because she was specifically denied a new home loan with the new potential lender specifically identifying the Welk credit reporting of a deficiency balance as the cause for the denial. A copy of our complaint can be found by clicking HERE.

Therefore, if you have ever returned a property back to Welk after receiving such a letter, we would like to speak to you so that we can discuss your particular circumstances as well and obtain further information for our investigations.

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SEMNAR & HARTMAN PROSECUTING EQUIFAX FOR MASSIVE DATA BREACH

  • 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.

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OCWEN AND IMPAC MORTGAGE MOTION TO DISMISS DENIED

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on August 24, 2017

 

On August 23, 2017, Judge Miller of the Southern District of California denied a motion to dismiss filed by Ocwen and Impac Mortgage Corp., so that all causes of action remain in litigation. A copy of the court’s ruling can be found by clicking HERE .

In this case, the plaintiffs allege that Ocwen and Impac granted an affordable loan modification, and after the plaintiffs accepted the modification by following all terms required by the defendants they reversed course and refused to honor the agreement while claiming that they had determined the agreement was not affordable for them. The allegations further claim that, after refusing to honor the agreement that the defendants had offered and granted to plaintiffs, they proceeded to reject any and all payments that plaintiffs made in furtherance of the agreement, submitted false credit reporting that claimed the plaintiffs were in default each month in a much higher amount than the modification granted, repeatedly uttered false threats of foreclosure with the apparent intention of scaring the plaintiffs into paying the higher amount and disregarding the affordable modification, and repeatedly claiming to plaintiffs that they were in default in an amount much higher than the affordable modification.

The plaintiffs tried for several years to obtain the defendants’ compliance with the agreement in order to avoid litigation. Defendants then tried to use that against them by seeking dismissal for statute of limitations grounds, among other arguments, but the motion grossly misapplied the law of statute of limitations.

After so many years of being beaten down by the defendants when the plaintiffs were simply trying to do the right thing, the ruling today is a great result that allows them to continue pursuing justice against these companies who apparently are not ashamed of placing their own business profits over the concern and care for their own customers.

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TRANS UNION, LLC HIT WITH WHOPPING $60 MILLION JURY VERICT

  • 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.

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LIVING A “MIXED-FILE NIGHTMARE”

  • 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.

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HARD VS. SOFT INQUIRIES ON CONSUMER CREDIT REPORTS

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on September 2, 2016

 

Recently, we have had numerous calls by individuals who are confused as to the difference between “soft” inquiries vs. “hard” inquiries on their consumer credit reports.

As a general rule, an inquiry is created when your credit report is accessed by a third party. Typically, these third parties are potential creditors—such as a credit card company, an auto dealership, or a home mortgage loan officer—but are also sometimes debt collection agencies, repossession agencies, insurance companies, and even potential employers. When consumers apply for a car loan, for example, the lender who is being asked to provide the loan will request a credit report for the consumer, which is generally obtained from either Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. The fact that your credit information was used by these third parties will be noted on the consumer’s credit report, along with the date it was requested, the name of the third party that requested it, and the type of inquiry.

Before we discuss specifics, it is important to note that inquiries remain on the consumer’s credit reports for two years. Soft inquiries will have less of an effect on the consumer’s credit score than hard ones. So what’s the difference?

Hard inquiries are inquiries that can significantly affect a consumer’s credit score. They suggest to potential creditors that the consumer is actively trying to obtain credit, whether it be for a car, a credit card, a home mortgage loan, or simply a student loan. Numerous hard inquiries in a short period of time creates red flags, because it appears as if the consumer is trying to obtain more credit than s/he typically carries, and therefore might not be able to repay, which results in more of a negative impact upon the consumers’ credit score than individual hard inquiries spread out over a longer period of time.

Soft inquiries, on the other hand, are generally not the result of a consumer who is shopping for credit. They can occur due to a consumer who requests their own credit report, or a lender who sends a consumer a preapproved credit offer. Such inquiries are not the result of active credit requests by the consumer, and therefore they do not generally result in the consumer’s credit score being negatively impacted. Other soft inquiries may include a request generated by a potential employer or an insurance company whose purpose is not to provide “credit” to the consumer.

How to Avoid Unintentional Hard Inquiries?

As indicated above, a consumer who reviews their credit report will: 1) not cause a hard inquiry on their own credit report, and 2) can see if others are making hard inquires on their credit report. It is important to know that generating an inquiry (hard or soft) without a “permissible purpose” is a violation of the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).

If you don’t know where to get a free credit report, or what to look for, Semnar & Hartman, LLP can help. We provide a free, no strings attached confidential consultation, where we sit down with any potential client and review their credit reports with them. If there is an error, or an inquiry that should not be there, we can help with disputing the information. If it is not removed with a simple dispute letter, then we may be able take pursue a lawsuit on your behalf, without any fee being charged to you. The FCRA provides for the consumer to obtain his/her attorneys’ fees from those who violate the Act. Moreover, they provide for statutory damages for the consumer for willful violations, even if the consumer has not suffered any actual harm.

NOT LEGAL ADVICE – Please call us to schedule a Free Consultation, whereby you may receive legal advice tailored for your specific situation.

So, feel free to come see us at 400 South Melrose Drive, Suite 209, Vista, California, or simply call us at (619) 500-4187 to schedule a phone consultation to ensure your credit report is free of any unwanted or unauthorized inquires. You can also obtain more information at our website: www.SanDiegoConsumerAttorneys.com

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BEEN HARASSED BY LVNV FUNDING, LLC OR ITS COLLECTION AGENTS?

  • Jared Hartman, Esq.
  • Posted on May 23, 2016

 

LVNV Funding, LLC is a Las Vegas based “debt buyer”—an entity that regularly purchases defaulted (and often charged-off) debts from other entities, and then either attempts to collect the debt itself or retains an outside servicing agent to collect on their behalf. The circumstances under which LVNV operates renders them subject to mandatory compliance with the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

Recently, a jury in Baltimore returned a verdict and damages award of $38 million dollars on a class action alleging that LVNV Funding violated the laws by filing lawsuits, obtaining judgments, and garnishing consumers’ wages in Maryland even though it was not licensed to operate as a debt collector under Maryland law. The damages award also encompasses the profits that LVNV Funding received from the illicitly obtained money by investing the money in other avenues and reaping profits therefrom. A news story and interview of the plaintiffs’ lawyer can be found here: http://www.wbaltv.com/money/jury-hits-debt-collector-with-38m-judgment/39657226.

Also, the law firm of Semnar & Hartman, LLP has teamed up with Mashiri Law Firm to file a proposed class action against LVNV Funding and its servicing debt collector J.C. Christensen & Associates, Inc. based on the deceptive manner the two have been attempting to collect debts from California consumers on debts that are so old they cannot be sued upon. The allegation is that LVNV and J.C. Christensen tells the consumers in their letters that the debt is so old they won’t be sued, but also offers three “settlement options” for the consumer to agree to pay the outstanding debt for less than the full balance. But the deception occurs because the debt collectors are not informing the consumers that, under California law, accepting any of the three “settlement options” creates a new contract with a new statute of limitations for them to sue the consumer upon if the consumer fails to pay the “settlement option” in full as agreed. Therefore, the consumer would actually be in a worse position than they would already be in if they agree to any of the “settlement options” but cannot actually pay the agreed amount in full. The complaint can be read by clicking HERE.

If you or a loved one have been contacted by either LVNV Funding, LLC or any of its debt collectors, please do not hesitate to contact us immediately for a free and confidential consultation to discuss whether your rights have been violated.