COURT DENIES WELLS FARGO’S MOTION TO DISMISS FCRA CLAIMS

COURT DENIES WELLS FARGO’S MOTION TO DISMISS FCRA CLAIMS

A court in the Middle District of Florida recently denied Wells Fargo’s motion to dismiss claims made by a consumer under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

Background

On June 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed suit against Wells Fargo and alleged Wells Fargo violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when it failed to properly investigate his dispute of a fraudulent school loan that was being reported on his Experian and Trans Union credit reports.  According to the Complaint:

  • Plaintiff did not know about or authorize anyone to open the school loan in his name.
  • Plaintiff also contends that he disputed the fraudulent school loan directly to Wells Fargo twice, and twice, Wells Fargo concluded the account belonged to him.
  • Plaintiff reviewed his Experian and Trans Union credit reports. The credit reports included the fraudulent school loan.  The credit reports also indicated that the fraudulent school loan had a balance of over $16,000 and was reported as a “charge off” account.
  • Plaintiff disputed the fraudulent school loan to Experian twice. In response to the first dispute, Experian did not delete the fraudulent school loan from Plaintiff’s credit report. In response to Plaintiff’s second dispute, Experian responded to Plaintiff that it deleted the disputed Wells Fargo account from Plaintiff’s credit report.
  • Plaintiff disputed the fraudulent school loan to Trans Union twice. In response, and despite receipt of an identity theft report, Trans Union failed to delete or block the fraudulent account.

Analysis

Wells Fargo argued that the plaintiff failed to state a claim under the FCRA because he did not identify the specific information that Wells Fargo failed to review during its investigation of the disputed information and “which information was found to be inaccurate, incomplete, or unverifiable.”  Additionally, Wells Fargo argued the complaint did not allege sufficient facts as to whether Plaintiff alleged Wells Fargo failed to conduct an investigation or whether Wells Fargo’s investigation was inadequate.

Plaintiff argued Wells Fargo is in the best position to know whether any investigation was completed and what information was considered as a part of its investigation.  Also, Plaintiff pointed out that at the early stage in the case, discovery is needed to learn what Wells Fargo did or did not do in response to Plaintiff’s disputes.

The Court recognized, “[i]n order to sufficiently state a claim against Wells Fargo for violating 15 U.S.C. § 1681s-2(b) of the FCRA, Plaintiff must allege that Wells Fargo: [F]ailed to conduct an investigation with respect to the disputed information; (2) failed to review all relevant information provided by the consumer reporting agency pursuant to § 1681i(a)(2) of the FCRA; (3) failed to report the results of the investigation to the consumer reporting agency; or, (4) if an item of information disputed by a consumer is found to be inaccurate, incomplete, or cannot be verified after any reinvestigation, failed to modify, delete, or permanently block the reporting of that item of information.”citing Howard v. DirecTV Group, Inc., 2012 WL 1850922, at *4 (S.D. Ga. May 21, 2012).

The Court disagreed with Wells Fargo and held the plaintiff made the necessary allegations in his complaint to survive the motion to dismiss. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged Wells Fargo failed to “conduct an investigation with respect to the disputed information” and “review all relevant information provided by Plaintiff in the dispute provided to [the consumer reporting agencies]….”  See Complaint, ¶¶ 66-67 and 88-90.  Accordingly, the Court denied Wells Fargo’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s FCRA claims because Plaintiff’s “allegations are sufficient to allow the plaintiff to conduct discovery in an attempt to prove the allegations.  CitingJackam v. Hospital Corp. of Am. Mideast, Ltd., 800 F.2d 1577, 1579 (11th Cir. 1986).

Read the full opinion here: Okereke v. Experian Information Solutions, Inc., Case No. 8:18-cv-1347-T-24 AAS (M.D. Fla., Oct. 31, 2018).

The Adkins Firm helps victims of identity theft. We also help consumers with errors on credit or background reports.  Have you discovered fraudulent accounts on your credit report?  Have you disputed the fraudulent information to the credit bureaus, but the information was “verified” as accurate?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, we may be able to help you.

Contact us by calling 615.370.9659 or click HERE to schedule a free consultation.  Remember, it’s your credit report!