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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Unauthorized Credit Inquiry

    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.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Unauthorized Credit Inquiry

    The FCRA Provides,
    Quote Quoting FCRA § 616. Civil liability for willful noncompliance (15 U.S.C. § 1681n)
    (a) In general. Any person who willfully fails to comply with any requirement imposed under this title with respect to any consumer is liable to that consumer in an amount
    equal to the sum of


    (A) any actual damages sustained by the consumer as a result of the failure or damages of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000; or

    (B) in the case of liability of a natural person for obtaining a consumer report under false pretenses or knowingly without a permissible purpose, actual damages sustained by the consumer as a result of the failure or $1,000, whichever is greater;
    (2) such amount of punitive damages as the court may allow; and

    (3) in the case of any successful action to enforce any liability under this section, the costs of the action together with reasonable attorney's fees as determined by the court.
    (b) Civil liability for knowing noncompliance. Any person who obtains a consumer report from a consumer reporting agency under false pretenses or knowingly without a permissible purpose shall be liable to the consumer reporting agency for actual damages sustained by the consumer reporting agency or $1,000, whichever is greater.

    (c) Attorney's fees. Upon a finding by the court that an unsuccessful pleading, motion, or other paper filed in connection with an action under this section was filed in bad faith or for purposes of harassment, the court shall award to the prevailing party attorney's fees reasonable in relation to the work expended in responding to the pleading, motion, or other paper.
    When the judge said, "Unfortunately for you, Mr. Friedice, we live in the age where identity theft is quite common", it appears that he was concluding that the violation was neither willful nor knowing, such that damages were not owed. When the judge said "Also the damages you stated are pretty vague" he appears to have been expressing that you had not proved any actual damages. Although you can recover statutory damages in excess of actual damages if you can show a willful or knowing violation, as the judge apparently found neither he could deny an award of statutory damages. We can only interpret the little bit you've shared - for a more complete assessment you can take any transcript that may be available (generally you must order and purchase one) or recording if the proceeding was videotaped, to a lawyer for review.

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