My question involves personal finance in the State of: California.
Recently I reviewed my Equifax credit report and found that Dollar Rent a Car made an inquiry in Maui in August of last year. This was an unauthorized inquiry since I haven't rented from Dollar nor been to Maui at at that time. I contacted Equifax, but they told me it is a factual inquiry, so I should take this matter to Dollar. I contacted Dollar Corporate Headquarters and they opened a case, but it did not go very far. They claimed that they do Equifax credit check whenever a person rents using a debit card. The fact that I DIDN'T, did not concern them at all. They refused to remove the inquiry or investigate it. I made a police report about this and then sent them a demand letter. After they ignored it, I filed small claims suit. The damage stated was increased interest charges (>$1000), since I was carrying some balances.
At the court, before the hearing, we exchanged evidence. The the Dollar rep had 2 rental agreements under my name, one of them had also my address, another one had some Russian address (that rental was done in Vegas). The Driver License number on the agreements did not match mine. The electronic signature wasn't mine.
Now, few years ago I established a rewards account with Dollar. What I'm assuming happened, some guy in Russia with the same name as I, came as a tourist and rented cars in Maui and Vegas. In Maui some negligence took place and they must have connected his name to my account and ran my credit. In Vegas that didn't happen.
So now fast forward to the trial. I presented my story, however I probably didn't prepare well enough to show the damage caused by interest charges, as there was no easy way of showing them, since I had balances across multiple cards and partially the amount was an estimate of future charges. However, I had a printout of a section from FCRA as a backup, in regards to willful noncompliance and obtaining credit report under false pretenses and knowingly without the permissible purpose. The liability in this case is $1000 or actual damages, whichever is greater. I did not mention that section to the judge.
The judge then took "evidence" from the defendant, which were copies of those rental agreements. The defendant read the rules under which they are allowed to obtain copies of credit reports in case a consumer rents a car with a debit card. So judge looked at me and said "it looks like these are you rental agreements". I denied that saying that the address doesn't match, the driver license number doesn't match and signature isn't mine. After that the judge said, "Unfortunately for you, Mr. Friedice, we live in the age where identity theft is quite common. Also the damages you stated are pretty vague. And based on what I've heard, the defendant doesn't owe you any money." I tried telling him about the section from FCRA which I printed out and which was also in his hands, but he wouldn't even listen. And that was it.
I'm thinking it could be one of these reasons:
1. judge didn't believe that I wasn't renting the vehicles
2. judge was incompetent and decided to take a safe route
3. The damages were too "vague" for him
I have really hard time with this decision. And not only in regards to money, but the fact that the judge failed to acknowledge that Dollar was responsible for this. Basically he told me, "s*it happens, it's your problem, take a hike." So essentially this means anybody can run my credit and not be liable for it? I know that as a plaintiff I cannot appeal. The only thing I can do Request to Correct or Cancel Judgement. Will that do anything? What else can I do? Is it possible to file a new case for this in a different court, now claiming the civil liability for willful noncompliance? Please help.